On Friday, the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee held a joint hearing to review four bills that are paving the way to a special session. Included in this package of bills is the new and improved E-12 bill that contains $525 million in new spending on a variety of education initiatives over the next two years.
The other bills on the docket include the Environment bill, the Jobs bill and a Capital Investment bill. All of these bills were vetoed by Governor Dayton in the days following the May 18 adjournment of the regular legislative session. Also slated for special session is passage of the Legacy bill that the legislature failed to pass in the last minutes of the regular session.
So what’s holding up the show now that it’s Monday and the new and improved bills have been public for three days?
The Hold Up
The last issue preventing Governor Dayton from calling the legislature back in has to do with the authority of the State Auditor. In the State Government Finance bill, which Dayton signed into law, is a provision allowing all counties to secure private audits instead of having to use the State Auditor for financial audits. School districts, cities and large counties already have the ability to use private auditing firms to do their audits. The issue is whether or not the remaining 59 smaller counties should have the same ability or not and what that impact is on the Office of the State Auditor.
Dayton would like to reverse the policy change he just signed into law, but finding the votes to do this in both the House and Senate is proving to be difficult. House Speaker Kurt Daudt has suggested keeping the new policy in place, but studying its impact for a year. Until they resolve this difference Dayton isn’t going to call them back into special session.
What to Do?
In the meantime It appears that school officials and staff can work off of the E-12 bill and associated spreadsheets and summaries for planning purposes for the next school year.