State government finance conference report adopted


An omnibus state government finance bill that contains some ambitious plans for reforming state agencies and services will return to the House and Senate floors for re-passage.

House and Senate conferees completed their work on HF577/ SF1057*. Sponsored by Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) and Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca), the bill would fund core state government operations and veterans programs for the 2012-2013 biennium.

Under the agreed-to language, the conference report would spend a total of $600.3 million from the General Fund — a 34.2 percent reduction from base funding. Most agencies funded by the bill would receive a reduction of between 5 and 15 percent in their biennial operating budgets. Only the departments of Military Affairs and Veterans Affairs would see their budgets increase.

The total number of state employees would be reduced 15 percent by 2015, and state workers would be collectively asked to pick up $90 million of the state’s current share of their health insurance costs. In addition to the funding reductions, the bill proposes a wide assortment of reform initiatives, including zero-based budgeting, performance pay programs and consolidation of information technology and other agency services.

Lanning and Parry both expressed disappointment at what they said was unwillingness by Gov. Mark Dayton to negotiate with the conference committee. Lanning said it would likely force conferees to start over again if Dayton rejects the conference report.

“I think it increases the possibility that we’re not going to get all of this resolved before next Monday,” he said.

A draft of the conference report is available online; however, conferees added a number of small technical amendments before voting to adopt the report. A PDF of the spreadsheet is also available for download.