It is the final week at the Capitol. The Legislature has until midnight on Sunday to finish their work. As always, every major decision is still up in the air. It’s cram time.
Here’s a look at where things stand:
Transportation & Taxes
Despite a flurry of activity, it is doubtful there is a viable path to solving transportation and any amount of tax cuts. It’s not a budget session, and these are the kinds of issues best played out on the campaign trail for the next budget session.
A bonding bill, the one order of business for this session, can make it across the finish line. There are rumblings that an $800 million bonding bill will emerge late this week.
The supplemental budget bill is a big question mark. The supplemental budget conference committee has been meeting, and there is pressure to address smaller ticket, one-time budget items across many state agencies.
The size and scope of the supplemental bill is sure to shrink if it’s going to make it through. However, they can do a few smaller, yet important things for education, and MREA will continue to push them to do so.
New Education Policy
There is an immense amount of new proposed education policy, and we’ve asked legislators to defer most of it over the interim. There’s a sense that there’s too much new policy that moved too fast this session. View a five-page summary of the new requirements and mandates in play in the supplemental budget conference committee negotiations.
Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is urging the legislature to refer these to working groups.
The elections bill, which has a fix for the problematic school board vacancy law that passed last session, is in doubt. Elections bills always bring about political amendments on the House and Senate floor, and legislative leaders are loathe to take that on.
A pension bill that would include a fix for TRA is possible, but there are strong disagreements about what, if any, employee contributions should be included in any solvency package. Districts are pushing for funding to pay for any increases in employer contributions.
Doing nothing is the path of least resistance, but it leads to a $212 million problem for TRA in the next fiscal biennium. Not having to deal with TRA problems of this magnitude next session is desirable for all involved.