The 20-day shutdown is officiallyover, after a 12-hour-plus legislative marathon. A quick summary of all bills passed, complete with comparison to the conference committee version previously passed (GOP version) and Governor Mark Dayton’s previous budget, is here at MPR.
Session Daily, the on-line, non-partisan news service of the MN House of Representatives, has bill-by-bill descriptions, below. Some of the articles also contain spreadsheets and summaries—all include links to audio and video of the special session. Also below — press releases from legislators with their reactions.
Omnibus retirement bill headed to Dayton’s desk
The House overwhelmingly passed an omnibus public employees retirement bill that would enable consolidation of Minneapolis police and fire pension funds. (view full story)
Tax bill contains so-called ‘tobacco bonds’
City and county aid remain at 2010 levels; some new tax credits proposed, while some are modified. (view full story)
HHS bill reform measures draw support
Critics say bill could force some hospitals and nursing homes to close. (view full story)
State government bill goes to governor
The House concluded its part in the special session by passing its final budget bill — an omnibus state government finance bill loaded with scaled-down but still ambitious government reforms. (view full story)
Education finance bill gets passing grade from Legislature
An education finance bill that includes a $780 million shift awaits action by the governor.
Higher education benefits from bonding bill
Coming in at $498 million, the capital investment bill was called ‘good bipartisan work.’ (view full story)
Higher education bill passed by House, Senate
A higher education bill that cuts $351 million from base funding awaits gubernatorial action. (view full story)
Funding for jobs and housing passes
A slightly more expensive version of the omnibus jobs and economic development finance bill is on its way to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk. (view full story)
Transportation bill would lessen transit cuts
Metro Transit service would likely be kept whole under a bill awaiting the governor’s signature; Greater Minnesota transit hours would be reduced. (view full story)
Environment and energy package heads to governor
A bill on its way to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk would roughly split the difference between the governor’s and lawmakers’ respective spending proposals on environment and energy programs. (view full story)
Legacy bill brought back to life
Although the bill to fund outdoors and arts projects was not passed through the House or Senate during the 2011 session, budget negotiations brought it new life. (view full story)
Public safety bill receives legislative support
The omnibus public safety budget bill contains reductions for some areas of courts and corrections, but not nearly as steep as those proposed by the Legislature during its regular session. (view full story)
Many DFL legislators issued press releases denouncing the “Republican budget.” Among them:
Representative Paul Thissen:
Republicans poised to impose beg, borrow, and steal budget on people of MN
Text of speech from Minority Leader Thissen on Special Session Tax Bill
“As the clock ran out on the regular legislative session, I said that 2011 was a colossal failure of leadership on the part of the Republicans. Little did I know that missed deadline was only the beginning of Republican failures to lead For the next 6 weeks, Republicans would be so stubbornly stuck to protecting millionaires that they would actually shut down our state.
And I certainly didn’t know that the only way we would be able to end that shutdown would be to enact what can only be described as the most irresponsible budget it state history.
The fact is that this is a beg-borrow-and-steal budget. It borrows and steals from Minnesota’s future and begs the people of our state to look the other way as once again you simply kick the can down the road.
Let’s be very clear – the Republicans put tobacco bonds and the school shift on the negotiating table. This is a Republican proposal, a Republican budget for which you are responsible.
We will be debating the Legacy Bill later, but the real Republican legacy is leaving at least $4 billion in debt for the next legislature to fix.
And for what? That’s the most ridiculous part of all of this. There is no possible excuse for what Republicans did – for your utter refusal to do your job and to get it done so poorly when you actually did your work.
After all, over 60% of the people in our state – a state you pledged to serve – said in multiple polls that they wanted the richest in our state to share in the budget balancing responsibility.
You say that we can’t tax job creators. An excuse repeated thousands of times that flies in the face of fact or history. Yet you raise the largest tax businesses pay – the property tax – with this budget.
You say businesses will leave the state. Yet we heard from small business owners in East Grand Forks that they were moving across the river not because of business or income taxes, but because of property taxes. We heard from Park Rapids resort owners who said that cutting LGA would be the worst thing you could do to their business.
And guess what you are doing in this budget? Cutting the 1 thing those businesses said was critical for them to survive.
The lengths to which this Republican majority will go to protect corporate special interests and the richest of the rich are astounding. Their budget forces the state to beg from seniors and the disabled with draconian budget cuts, borrow money to temporarily fill the deficit with one-time funds, and steal from our children’s future by expanding the K12 school shift.
The fact is, you stand for the wrong people. Middle class families are struggling in this state. They are paying more and more, but getting less and less.
But who did you choose to balance this budget on?
The backs of those exact middle class families. And you balance this budget squarely on the backs of our children – our future. You borrow and spend and mortgage our future; all to preserve the façade that you did your job.
Well let me be clear – you didn’t do your job because you were elected to serve the people, not just the richest few. You didn’t do your job because you couldn’t finish your work in the regular session. You didn’t do your job because you shut down our state. You didn’t do your job because you didn’t protect the people’s interests, you protected the richest special interests. You didn’t do your job because you didn’t solve the problem, you begged, borrowed, and stole.
Republicans have nothing to be proud of today. In fact, Republicans have every reason to hang your heads in shame.”
Representatives Erin Murphy and Tom Huntley
Republicans Enact Huge Cuts to Children, Seniors, and the Disabled
Health Care bill harms vulnerable and the middle class, lack innovative reforms
Saint Paul, Minnesota – The Minnesota House enacted huge cuts to services for children, seniors, and the disabled in the omnibus health care bill, which passed on party line vote early Wednesday morning. While the bill protect early MA and prevents Republican attempts to eliminate health care for 144,000 from health insurance, nearly $1 billion in cuts will hit children, the elderly and the disabled the hardest.
“Republicans are choosing to balance this budget on the backs of children, the elderly, the disabled, and the middle class,” said Huntley. “And while they cut services that our most vulnerable depend on, Republicans are protecting millionaires and wealthy special interests from contributing a penny to this budget solution.”
“Preserving early MA and health care for many Minnesotans is positive, but debilitating cuts to seniors and the disabled take us backwards,” said Murphy. “The absence of new ideas and real reforms that improve health care outcomes for Minnesotans is a real missed opportunity. We have a lot of work ahead.”
Over $50 million in cuts are made to programs that serve children in the GOP budget, including a $20 million cut to Children and Community Services grants that are used by counties to protect children from abuse and neglect. The bill also cuts programs that serve the elderly and disabled by almost $200 million. It cuts nursing home property rate adjustments and dramatically scales back rates for Personal Care Assistance (PCA) by relatives.
The bill also makes massive cuts to nursing homes and hospitals. Nursing homes are cut by $133 million and hospitals are cut by almost $500 million, with many of the deepest cuts coming in the 2014-2015 budget cycle.
“These deep cuts are a prescription for the closure of nursing homes and hospitals, especially in rural areas,” said Huntley. “This is a real job killer across Minnesota.”
Murphy said the bill included a lack of significant reform to adapt to the changing demographics and challenges facing Minnesota’s health care system.
“We didn’t reform, only deformed programs that serve some of the most vulnerable Minnesotans,” said Murphy. “Cutting care for our children and seniors not only harm Minnesotans, it prevents us from addressing the fundamental cost drivers of our health care system. We can and must do better for Minnesota’s future.”
Additional information on the HHS bill:
· Cuts programs for children by almost $50 million: Child care for low-income working Minnesotans is cut by $20 million. Children and Community Services Act (CCSA) grants used by counties to protect children from abuse and neglect are cut by $22 million. The CCSA cuts will impact 51,000 children.
· Cuts programs for the elderly and disabled by almost $200 million: The bill makes massive cuts to long-term care and waiver services. It cuts nursing home property rate adjustments and dramatically scales back rates for Personal Care Assistance (PCA) by relatives.
· Massive cuts to nursing homes and hospitals: The bill cuts nursing homes by $133 million in FY14-15 and cuts hospitals by almost a half a billion. By repealing rebasing, the process by which nursing home and hospital reimbursement rates are adjusted to inflation and other local economic forces, the bill ensures state payments will not keep up with state medical inflation rates that average about 7% annually.
· Cuts county HHS funding by about $80 million and increases property taxes: The bill cuts county grants, including CCSA, Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) consolidated fund, and adult mental health. It also increases the county share for Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) and Chemical Dependency treatment.
· The bill lacks any significant reform: The GOP claims that the bill contains “historic” reforms. The only “historic” items in the bill are the massive and hurtful cuts to nursing homes and hospitals the GOP uses to make their tails target appear artificially low.
· The limited amount of reform in the bill was proposed by the Governor: The Governor offered major managed care reforms, including direct contracting and competitive bidding as part of the budget solution. These reforms were already put in place by Governor Dayton in an Executive Order. Additionally, the Governor came to the bargaining table with a federal waiver to receive a $154 million federal match for MNCare.
· Almost a half a billion dollars in managed care cuts will result in higher health care premiums for middle-class Minnesotans: The Governor proposed significant managed care reforms, however the GOP pushed for additional cuts. Managed care organizations will pass these massive GOP cuts along to private-pay consumers, meaning higher insurance premiums for middle-class Minnesotans.
· Ironically, the GOP relies on federal health care reform to balance their budget: The GOP uses federal health care reform, which they vehemently opposed, as a crutch to hold up their beg, borrow, and steal budget. The GOP creates a MNCare voucher program that is effectively a watered-down version of federal health care reform. The program will exist for 18 months until it is replaced by the more adequate federal program in 2014.
Representative Paul Marquart:
GOP puts budget that increases property taxes on the credit card
Saint Paul, Minnesota – DFL legislators voted in unison this evening against the Republican budget plan to borrow $700 million in future revenues to balance our current deficit. This unprecedented budget gimmick was included in the House omnibus tax bill, which also eliminated the Market Value Homestead Credit and increased property taxes on nearly every Minnesota homeowner and renter.
“While I support Governor Dayton’s statesmanship and courage to compromise to end this shutdown and get Minnesota working again, I cannot support this irresponsible Republican budget plan,” said State Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL – Dillworth). “The majority party is borrowing from our kids and our future, and pushing huge property taxes on the backs of families, seniors and small business owners.”
Marquart said the insistence on borrowing and property tax increases was disappointing, given a much fairer solution was available.
“We had a different option – one that was fair, permanent, and did not create new debt or new property taxes,” said Marquart. “Instead of giving a bill to our children and raising property taxes on seniors and businesses, we could have asked the very wealthiest Minnesotans to pay their fair share. Unfortunately, the majority was willing to shutdown our state in order to protect these wealthy special interests.”
Marquart said the extreme reliance on borrowing, K-12 education shifts, and gimmicks will leave a $5.2 billion deficit in the next budget.
“It is disappointing that despite a record government shutdown we still haven’t solved our budget problem, only kicked the can down the road,” said Marquart. “We need a permanent solution, not more debt that our children will be paying off for decades.”
The tax bill will increase property taxes by $350 million in 2012.
“Taking away the homestead credit is a direct tax increase on homeowners,” said Marquart. “It’s beyond belief the GOP would take away this long time and cherished benefit from homeowners.”
Marquart’s concerns with the GOP tax plan include:
· Appropriation bonds/ tobacco bonds: Contains irresponsible, one-time borrowing to pay for ongoing spending and does not solve the systemic budget problem. Minnesota will likely pay more than $1 billion over several decades to pay of the interest from this one time loan.
· Protects 7,700 people earning over $1 million per year: (about half of whom are Minnesotans) from paying one penny more while middle income Minnesotans and small business owners will see increased property taxes.
· Higher property taxes: Non-partisan research estimates that the bill will increase property taxes by $376 million in 2012.
· Nearly all renters (about 300,000) will have their Renters’ Credit cut, including 82,000 senior and disabled renters.
· Slashes funding for direct and indirect property tax relief programs: eliminates the Market Value Credit, cuts LGA, and cuts CPA.
Representative Mindy Greiling:
Schools bill fnanced with cuts, delays
(ST. PAUL) — The Minnesota House of Representatives convened Tuesday in a special session to pass a series of budget bills funding state government for 2012 and 2013. Responding to the end of the shutdown and pending enactment of the state budget, State Representative Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville), DFL-Lead on the House E-12 Finance Committee, released the following statement:
“This school funding bill borrows against our children’s future. Republicans chose to balance the budget on the backs of kids rather than Minnesota’s highest earners.
“Republicans do not have a plan to pay back schools. These delays coupled with interest payments are real cuts to Minnesota’s schools. Our schools cannot afford these cuts.
“I am disappointed in the lack of Republican leadership in E-12 education this year. Republican failures in early childhood education, reforms grounded in research, and funding should be disturbing to parents and education advocates across Minnesota.
“Shifting and borrowing their way out of the state’s budget deficit cycle, Republicans chose to once again take the easy way out. Their lack of fiscal responsibility means more deficits and tougher decisions in the future. Instead of delaying the inevitable tough decisions, Republicans should take the responsibility to balance the budget with fair and permanent revenue.”
Representative Nora Slawik:
Budget imposes deep cuts for Minnesota’s children
ST. PAUL — Early this morning the Minnesota Legislature passed Special Session legislation in Health and Human Services and K-12 Education. The bills contain millions in cuts to child care and early childhood education.
“Child care and early childhood education are the types of proven reform our state needs,” State Representative Nora Slawik (DFL – Maplewood) said. “By preparing children for learning before they enter elementary and providing them with quality child care, we can close the achievement gap, improve student success and save the state money over the long-term. For every dollar invested in early childhood, studies have shown that the state receives a $12-$16 return on investment. This is an investment in a future and one worth making.”
The Health and Human Services bill passed by the Republican majority cuts child care funding by over $26 million, including direct cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program and cuts Children and Community Services Act grants by $22 million.
“Unfortunately the Republican majority’s borrow-and-spend budget makes deep cuts to a program that helps low-income families afford child care while parents are working, searching for employment or pursuing education that would lead them to a good job,” said Rep. Slawik. “Cuts to Children and Community Services grants are incredibly painful for children suffering from dependency, abuse, neglect, poverty and disabilities. We’re squeezing the life out of programs that children and families desperately rely on.”
Finally, the legislative majority refused to include Parent Aware, the quality rating system for child care in their K-12 education budget. Similar to how consumers can look at product ratings online before purchasing; this system gives parents the opportunity to see ratings for child care programs before enrolling their children in them.
“This is a common-sense proposal that encourages greater quality in child care, and I’m very disappointed this was eliminated,” Rep. Slawik added. “Not having a quality ratings system will all but eliminate our chances of receiving up to $500 million in federal “Race to the Top” grants for early childhood education. We’re missing a great opportunity to improve our early childhood education system.
“Minnesota’s children are our future. They’re our future workforce, our future innovators and entrepreneurs, and our future leaders. In a budget that already delays another $700 million to our public schools, I’m disappointed to see even more cuts to our children. The programs being cut are smart public policies that will offer better results while lowering costs over the long-term. Minnesota’s children deserve much better than this budget.”
State Representatives Frank Hornstein and Terry Morrow:
GOP Transportation bill takes Minnesota down wrong path
Saint Paul, Minnesota – State Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL – Minneapolis) and State Rep. Terry Morrow (DFL – St. Peter) opposed the transportation bill that passed during special session, saying the bill takes Minnesota in the wrong direction on transportation.
“Just like many of the budget bills we will see today, the transportation bill is a beg, borrow and steal, budget,” said Hornstein. “We are begging from the Met Council, borrowing from suburban transit districts, and stealing from Minnesota taxpayers. This is a missed opportunity to build a 21st century transportation system that will grow our economy, support businesses, and help us travel safely.”
The bill includes fewer cuts than the transportation budget passed by Republicans during the legislative session, but still uses a mix of cuts, shifts and gimmicks that will negatively impact Minnesota’s transportation system and its users. For example, the Met Council will take a 39% cut from its base funding in the bill. Much of that gap will be filled with a shift of funds from suburban transit districts. Hornstein pointed out this shift is simply raiding sales tax dollars that suburban taxpayers have paid for a different purpose.
“This is a duct tape and bailing wire fix,” said Hornstein. “Instead of borrowing and shifting our budget problems, we should take the responsibility to permanently balance our budget and improve our transportation system.”
Greater Minnesota transit will be cut by almost $3 million, resulting in a loss of almost 40,000 hours of service. State Rep. Terry Morrow said this cut will likely result in fee increases and service reductions for seniors and others in Greater Minnesota who rely on dial-a-ride services to continue living at home.
“A tough economy is the wrong time to cut transit that workers, students, older Minnesotans, and people struggling with car and gas need,” said Morrow. “These cuts mean that almost one-half of Minnesotans outside of the cities will be left stranded.”
Representative Sheldon Johnson:
Minnesota courts continue to be underfunded, GOP budget irresponsible
(ST. PAUL) – The Minnesota House of Representatives convened today in a special session to pass a series of budget bills funding state government for 2012 and 2013. Responding to the end of the shutdown and pending passage of the state budget, State Representative Sheldon Johnson (DFL-St. Paul) released the following statement:
“I am pleased a budget solution was reached that will end the state government shutdown. Unfortunately it was accomplished by Republicans imposing their beg-borrow-and-steal budget on the people of Minnesota. Minnesota’s judicial system remains underfunded and strained under the Republican budget. Low-income Minnesotans will continue to be underserved in the courts.
“Governor Dayton gave Republicans seven offers toward a compromise budget deal. Republicans rejected all seven offers and in fact did not even propose a single offer since the July 1 shutdown began. The majority of Minnesotans supported Governor Dayton’s balanced approach with cuts and fair revenue. Unfortunately, the Republican strategy was to win, rather than compromise in the interest of middle class Minnesotans.
“The budget deal proposed by Republicans and agreed to by Governor Dayton continues the recent run of perpetual deficits and borrowing from local students. Borrowing from schools to pay the state’s bills is reckless since there is no plan to pay back the loan. Buying bonds for cash instead of raising fair revenue shows the misplaced priorities of legislative Republicans. They would rather raise property taxes on renters, homeowners and businesses instead of have people earning over a million dollars a year pay their fair share in taxes.
“I do not support this borrow-and-spend non-solution budget because it is irresponsible and does only delays the hard decisions even further down the road.”
Representatives Jean Wagenius and Rick Hansen:
Beg-Borrow-and-Steal budget sacrifices Minnesota’s water quality
(ST. PAUL) – Today the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a Special Session Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Finance bill. State Representative Jean Wagenius (DFL – Minneapolis) and State Representative Rick Hansen (DFL – South St. Paul) voted against the bill and released the following statement.
“This Republican bill uses shifts, borrowing, and smoke and mirrors along with serious cuts on the DNR, Pollution Control Agency, and the Board of Water and Soil Resources, negatively impacting their ability to protect our drinking water, lakes, rivers, forests, and prairies,” said State Rep. Rick Hansen. “Republicans have chosen to ignore a core responsibility to protect our natural resources and preserve them for future generations. Their beg-borrow-and-steal budget creates huge long-term debt while causing immediate environmental problems.”
“There are no efficiencies, reform, or redesign in this bill, just irresponsible budget cuts falling particularly hard on Minnesota’s waters with a negative impact that we cannot yet even determine,” said State Rep. Jean Wagenius. An example of this budget’s irresponsibility is the 32 percent cut to the Conservation Corps which provides some of the most efficient delivery of services in the state. Minnesotans and our natural resources deserve better.”