A supplemental spending bill that includes a proposed expansion of the state’s GI Bill program won House approval.
Rep. Mary Liz Holberg (R-Lakeville) sponsors HF2958 that fulfils a number of Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget requests, including $100,000 for military honor guards and $515,000 to reimburse law enforcement officers for purchasing body armor.
The bill would also expand the state’s GI Bill to include funding for apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs for post-9/11 veterans and some family members. Currently, the GI Bill provides only postsecondary education benefits.
The House passed the bill 80-50. It now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Claire Robling (R-Jordan) is the sponsor.
Under the provisions, eligible individuals could receive up to $2,000 for either an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Employers would be eligible for a $1,000 job placement credit for each hire, and another $1,000 after they have employed the individual full-time for 12 consecutive months.
Officials say the GI Bill program is currently under-utilized. Dayton proposed the expansion as a way of attacking high unemployment among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans — though his original plan included making previous generations of veterans eligible for the program as well.
Other provisions in the bill include:
- adding House and Senate minority representation on the Legislative Advisory Commission;
- restricting the ability of Minnesota Management & Budget to authorize the expenditure of federal funds without LAC approval; and
- establishing a validation procedure for a pay-for-performance bonding pilot program enacted in 2011.
Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr. (DFL-Crystal) noted that officials from the Dayton administration object to the LAC-related provisions in the bill, saying they erode executive authority. He also said the bill’s funding depended on lower debt service spending, which would preclude passage of a larger bonding bill than what House Republicans are proposing.