After returning from their spring break, the Minnesota House and Senate began the arduous process of moving their massive budget and policy bills off their respective floors. While leadership had hoped to make more progress last week, much work remains this week leading up to a major deadline.
They’re working to have all of the budget bills passed and to establish conference committees by the end of business, which could be late into the evening on Wednesday. The House passed its omnibus E-12 bill, HF 2400, last week. The Senate’s E-12 bill has yet to make it off the Senate floor.
Where issues stand today:
Debates & Trade Offs
The Senate GOP last week started to dig in even harder against a gas tax increase saying “not a penny more.” The DFL insists that the Provider Tax continues, which supports the Health Care Access Fund. The GOP wants a continuation of the health reinsurance program they put in place two years ago to stabilize rates in the individual insurance market.
There’s potential for a trade on this front, which is helpful longer term for E-12 funding as it keeps a large, potential competitor for general fund dollars —Health & Human Services — at bay. However, in the short run, a continuation of the Provider Tax doesn’t free up needed general fund dollars for E-12.
If the transportation bill doesn’t relieve the general fund of recently enacted transportation obligations with new gas tax revenue, then it will come down to the competing tax bills to produce education funding. At this point, the House and Senate are well over a billion dollars apart on this front.
It’s hard to see how increases are provided to E-12 and Higher Education without the eventual tax bill producing more general fund revenue. Senator Bakk mused during the mark-up of the Senate’s tax bill in committee last week that people are going to have to prepare for austere budgets well into the future.
The process will eventually get into Conference Committee to work through the differences and bring forth a compromise.
See the major differences between the House, Senate and Governor and provisions on key E-12 issues: