Unfinished business remains with only hours left in the legislative session

Less than 10 hours remain in the 2017 legislative session. Yesterday, three of the 13 major budget bills passed with what appears to be somewhat of an agreement between Governor Dayton and the Republican leadership. It is possible that these bills could be vetoed, but I suspect they will be signed by the Governor. The bills that passed were jobs finance, environment finance and higher education funding.

However, with the taxes, transportation, health and human services, bonding and K-12 education among the bills that have not passed, it seems increasingly likely that a special session will be needed. My take is that the best possible outcome would be for the Governor and legislative leaders to reach a “handshake agreement” on the overall size of the bills, and then take a few days or a week to assemble the bills before reconvening for a special session. The concern of not having a rough agreement and not passing the bills soon is that the pressure to “get it done” will be gone and we could be looking at a partial government shutdown beginning July 1.

As I mentioned above, one of the few bills that has passed the House and Senate thus far is the jobs bill, which includes several GMNP priorities. As for our top priority — workforce housing — the bill includes $4 million in workforce housing grants for 2018-19 and another $4 million for 2020-21. The program was moved from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority (MHFA). The reason for the shift is that MHFA maintains they are not subject to the prevailing wage statutes. Not sure that is the correct interpretation of the statutes, but time will tell.

Other highlights of the bill…

  • The Job Training Incentive Program that the GMNP helped to create is funded at $2.7 million per biennium for 218-19 and 2020-21.
  • The Border-to-Border Broadband Broadband Development Grant Program is funded at $20 million.
  • A workforce housing grant program within the Minnesota Housing Finance Authority will receive $4 million per biennium for 2018-19 and 2020-21
  • The Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure program (BDPI) gets $1 million for the 2018-19 biennium (excluding a $1.6 million earmark in FY 18) and approximately $3.6 million for the 2020-21 biennium. The BDPI program is funded in the proposed bonding bill as well.
  • The Minnesota Investment Fund is funded at $25 million per biennium for 2018-19 and 2020-21
  • The Job Creation Fund receives $17 million for the 2018-19 biennium and $16 million for the 2020-21 biennium