The last night of a legislative session is always a display of organized chaos and this year’s version didn’t disappoint with so much unfolding the last two hours and even final minutes last night.
Among the final-minute votes led to the unanimous approval of the long-awaited pension bill (SF 2620).The bill contains a major improvement to TRA that has been in the works for several year. As expected, this bill was held hostage until the very end and was the last bill passed by both bodies. Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign it soon.
Lawmakers also approved the supplemental budget, taxes and bonding bills. View score card of the key E-12 issues at a glance.
Under the parameters of the state’s constitution, Gov. Dayton now has 14 days to either sign, veto or ‘pocket veto’ the bills.
What’s at Stake?
A bonding bill (HF 4425) also emerged at the last minute and we still don’t have an updated copy of it. The bill appropriates $825 million in general obligation bonds. It also contains $25 million in cash for school safety and security upgrades. School districts will be allowed by apply to the Minnesota Department of Education for up to $500,000 in grants to help cover the costs of identified physical security needs. The governor is likely to sign this bill, but could line-item veto individual projects.
The 990-page supplemental budget bill (SF 3656) includes a “school safety” article that increases aid to school districts and educational cooperatives for safe schools activities. Gov. Dayton has said repeatedly that he will veto this bill that contains language and funding changes across all of state government. However, we can expect a steady drum beat of folks asking him to sign it because it contains particular provisions of interest to them.
A tax conformity and one-time emergency school aid bill (HF 947) was put together on Sunday and was sent to the governor. The bill contains virtually the same tax conformity bill the governor vetoed last week, but the legislature is hoping to sweeten the deal with the addition of $57 per pupil in one-time money for schools. The bill also allows districts to apply to the Minnesota Department of Education to transfer Community Education reserves and repurpose any staff development funds encumbered under the 2 percent set-aside.
The GOP is arguing this package creates and additional $225 million in available funding for schools to deal with any budget shortfalls this year. The governor has said he will veto the bill. That would lead to a difficult tax filing season next year. Expect enormous pressure on the governor to sign the bill.
View score card of the key E-12 issues at a glance.
MREA also will provides updates on the status of these bills as the governor makes his decisions. Follow MREA on Twitter (@mreavoice) and Facebook for the latest details.