Friday, February 5, 2010

Session begins, bonding fast tracked, President Obama's budget released

Legislative Update
February 5, 2010

2010 legislative session gets underway with budget deficit looming

The 2010 legislative session convened Thursday. On the House floor, Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, congratulated new House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, who replaced gubernatorial candidate Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, in this position. In the Senate, Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, was sworn in; he replaced Sen. Dick Day in the recent special election.

The second year of the biennium is considered a bonding year to take care of the states assets, and lawmakers have been moving quickly on a bill. However, the state is facing a $1.2 billion budget deficit for the current biennium, so legislators also will be charged with balancing the budget. Legislative leaders have not publicly discussed a solution to the budget deficit, but have said they will wait until the release of the state’s February economic forecast for further action. The release of the February forecast is scheduled for March 2.

House Majority Leader Rep. Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said the Legislature will be working as quickly and efficiently as possible with the major agenda items being jobs and the economy. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said the Legislature will move quickly to pass three bills aimed at stimulating job growth: a bonding bill focused on construction jobs, a package of tax incentives for businesses and an economic development reform bill.

Legislators must complete their work this session by Monday, May 17, which gives lawmakers approximately four months to solve the budget deficit.

Bonding bill on fast track

The capital investment bill, or bonding bill as it’s referred to, has been moving quickly through the legislative process with the intention of supporters to get to the governor’s desk mid-February. Traditionally, the bonding bill is not completed until the end of session; however, Rep. Alice Hasuman, DFL-St. Paul, chair of the House Capital Investment committee, has said that this bill should stand alone and not be used as leverage or be delayed until the end of session. She said there is sound reason to keep it separate and move it quickly, because interest rates are low and bids are coming in low. “If we move quickly, the tax payer dollar will go further,” Hausman said.

Most of the work on the bonding bill was done during the interim. Lawmakers traveled the state viewing projects and learning about the capital investment needs. Between the House, Senate and Minnesota Management and Budget, colleges and universities in the system hosted over 50 visits. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities presented the system’s bonding request to the House and Senate higher education committees in January. The first day of the 2010 session included an unveiling of both the House and Senate bonding bills. The Senate Capital Investment committee met Thursday and moved the proposed bonding bill forward to the Senate Finance committee, which approved the bill today.

The next stop for the bonding bill in the Senate is the floor, where the full Senate will debate the merits of the bill.

The House is expected to take up its version of the bill Feb. 9 in the Capital Investment committee, amend it, pass it and refer it to the House Finance committee the following day. Once the Ways and Means committee hears the bill, Chair Hausman has said the bill should be ready for floor debate Feb. 15. Legislative leaders have indicated a desire for a quick conference committee.

So what does this mean for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities? Of the system’s $396 million request, the House bill includes $338 million and the Senate bill includes $297 million. The governor has recommended $114 million for the system. Of the $110 million HEAPR request, both the governor and Senate have included $50 million and the House bill includes $60 million.

The bills and spreadsheets for both the Senate and House can be found at the links below. Also attached is a comparison of each bill.

Senate bonding bill spreadsheet

SF 2360

House bonding bill spreadsheet

HF 2700

Once the Legislature passes the conference committee version of the bill, it will head to the governor’s desk. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has recommended a smaller bonding bill at $685 million, and has threatened to veto the entire bill should it not be at a funding level he supports.

Precinct caucuses met this week

The state held precinct caucuses earlier this week. Below are theresults from the gubernatorial straw poll taken from the Minnesota Secretary of State's Web site:

Independence Party - Statewide Results

Rob Hahn 8.02%
Tom Horner 48.09%
Joe Repya 28.24%
Write-in 3.82%
No preference 11.83%

*The Independence Party is holding an online caucus. Results will be incomplete until after February 28, 2010.

Republican Party - Statewide Results

Bob Carney Jr. 0.16%
Leslie David 0.60%
Tom Emmer 39.26%
Bill Haas 1.63%
David Hann 5.16%
Phil Herwig 1.07%
Mary Seifert 50.23%
Write-in 1.89%

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party - Statewide Results


Tom Bakk 6.34%
Matt Entenza 6.79%
Susan Gaertner 2.06%
Steve Kelley 4.14%
Margaret Anderson Kelliher 20.06%
John Marty 9.57%
Felix Montez 0.08%
Ton Rukavina 7.23%
R.T. Rybak 21.69%
Ole Savior 0.09%
Paul Thissen 7.19%
Uncommitted 14.75%

Important dates for the 2010 Session

December 2, 2009 November Economic Forecast Released

January 12, 2010 System presents 2010 bonding request to Senate Higher Education Committee

January 26, 2010 System presents 2010 bonding request to House Higher Education Committee

January 15, 2010 Governor’s Capital Budget Recommendations

February 4, 2010 2010 Legislative Session Convenes

February 11, 2010 Governor’s State of the State Address

March 2, 2010 February Economic Forecast Released

May 17, 2010 2010 Legislative Session Adjourns

President Obama releases FY 2011 budget

In President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, the president said education is the foundation for opportunity. He called for making education more affordable for middle class families through an extension of the American Opportunity Tax Credit. On Monday this week, the president followed his address with a $3.8 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2011, which includes a 6 percent increase in federal education spending. The increases were proposed despite a net spending freeze on discretionary domestic spending.

The president's budget also includes raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,710, from the current $5,550, and he renewed a proposal made a year ago to make the Pell Grant program funded entirely through mandatory funding (like Social Security and Medicare) rather than discretionary.

He also recommended that the maximum Pell Grant award automatically increase each year over the next decade by the rate of inflation plus 1 percentage point.

The president’s budget also includes his original proposal to issue all student loans through the Direct Loan Program. This proposal projects a savings to be used to fund new programs. The budget also includes the creation of two programs aimed at graduating more students by 2020. The College Access and Completion Initiative would provide $700 million a year to various entities in order to support and create programs designed to help students graduate from postsecondary institutions. The other program, the American Graduation Initiative, provides more than $10 billion to higher education institutions that offer two-year programs in order to achieve a goal of an additional 5 million graduates.

The president also is proposing reforming elementary and secondary education programs, including restructuring teacher education programs. The budget includes the reduction of funds for the teacher preparation programs contained in Title II of the Higher Education Act and consolidates the funds and restructures the programs into the new teacher effectiveness accounts under the elementary and secondary
education budget.

You can review the education summary of the President’s budget here.

You can review the education budget fact sheet here.

Stay informed

The government relations team in the Office of the Chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, is here to assist you. Please feel free to contact any of the team members with questions or concerns. You also may find information for both state and federal legislative issues at the Government Relations Web site here.

New this session is the government relations Facebook page and Twitter page at the below links:



Here's What's Happening at the Capitol:

This schedule shows all meetings that we are aware of at the time of publication that may have an impact on the system. This schedule may change. Please watch the House and Senate schedules posted on the Legislature Web site.

Monday, February 8

9:00 AM
House Joint Committee: Ways & Means and Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Loren Solberg
Agenda: State cash flow projections

12:45 PM
Senate State Government Budget Division
Room: 112 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Don Betzold
Department of Management and Budget report on Children’s Resources, update on the SWIFT (the new accounting and procurement system) and the biennial budget system project and searchable data base legislation from 2009.

12:30 PM
Senate Business, Industry and Jobs
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. James P. Metzen
Agenda: Jobs Bill-Metzen

1:00 PM
House in Session

Tuesday, February 9

8:30 AM
House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight
Room: Basement State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Carlos Mariani
Agenda: Committee member 2010 K-12 policy priorities
Testimony from education groups on 2010 K-12 policy recommendations.
Those interested in testifying should contact Christina Gosack, Committee Administrator, at 651-296-5524.

10:00 AM
Legislative Audit Commission
Room: 107 State Capitol
Chairs: Rep. Michael Beard, Sen. Ann Rest
Agenda: OLA Report: MnSCU Central Office-Joel Alter

10:30 AM
House Joint Committee: Bioscience and Workforce Development Policy and
Oversight Division
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chairs: Rep. Ann Lenczewski, Rep. Tim Mahoney
Agenda: HFXXX (Davnie) Angel Investor Credit
HF1136 (Lenczewski) Governor's Angel Investor credit portion only.
HF1194 (Downey) Angel Investor credit portion only
HF2580 (Lenczewski) Angel investment grant provided, phase-in of single sales apportionment delayed, and money appropriated

12:30 PM
Senate Higher Education Budget and Policy Division
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Sandy Pappas
Agenda: OLA evaluation report, MnSCU System Office.
OHE: College-going Rates of Minnesota High School Students and Fall 2009 Enrollment-Mark Misukanis and Alexandra Djurovich

1:00 PM
House Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy and Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Tom Rukavina
Agenda: Unemployment Insurance - recipient problems
DEED response; UI figures and procedures - Commissioner Dan McElroy

2:45 PM
House Capital Investment
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Alice Hausman
HFXXXX - Omnibus Bonding Bill (Hausman) (The bill will be introduced, assigned a file number and available on Thursday, Feb. 4. Amendments are needed by 2:45 pm on Monday, Feb. 8).
HF2590 (Hausman) Appropriation and bond authorization for capital investment projects procedures clarified

2:45 PM
House K-12 Finance Division
Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Mindy Greiling
Agenda: Office of Legislative Auditor evaluation report on Alternative Learning Programs

3:00 PM
Senate Agriculture and Veterans
Room: 107 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Jim Vickerman
Minnesota Department of Military Affairs Brief; Major General Larry Shellito, Colonel Eric Ahlness. Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs Reports; Higher Education Veterans Program, 2010 Construction Project Priority Listing, Minnesota Veterans Home Siting, Veterans Cemetery Siting and Medicare Funding at Minnesota Veterans Homes.

Wednesday, February 10

6:30 PM
House Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
Agenda: HF2700 (Hausman) Omnibus capital investment bill.
HF2680 (E. Murphy) Mental health urgent care and consultation services established, general assistance medical care program modified, and money appropriated.

Thursday, February 11

8:30 AM
House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight
Room: Basement State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Carlos Mariani
Agenda: SciMathMN briefing: Lessons from Minnesota Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) Science results - Dr. Bill Schmidt, Michigan State University
Closing the achievement gap in math and science education - Dr. Natalie Rasmussen, teacher, Minneapolis North Community High School
HF2360 (Davnie) Minneapolis; Special School District No. 1; Two member appointment provided on the Minneapolis reapportionment commission, and standards established.

8:30 AM
House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Gene Pelowski
Agenda: Overview on the financial status of the retirement systems of Minnesota: Public Employees Retirement Association, Minnesota State Retirement System, Teachers Retirement Association.

10:30 AM
House in Session

11:00 AM
Governor’s State of the State

1:00 PM
House Higher Education and Work Force Development Policy and Finance
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Tom Rukavina
Agenda: Fiscal condition of state financial aid programs
David Metzen, Director of the Office of Higher Education

Friday, February 12

10:30 AM
House in Session

Monday, February 15

10:30 AM
House Ways & Means and Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Loren Solberg and Rep Lyndon Carlson
Agenda: Governor’s supplemental budget

1:00 PM
House in Session

Tuesday, February 16

7:00 PM
Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement
Room: 107 Capitol
Chair: Sen Betzold
Agenda: One-person/small group legislation:
SF1374/HF1569 - PERA-P&F; Joint and survivor annuity for the divorced spouse of a deceased retiree who elected a single life annuity.
SFXX/HF2550 - MSRS/MnSCU/TRA; Permitting the repayment of certain member contribution refunds; authorizing a second chance option to elect TRA retirement plan benefit coverage; mandating certain contributions.
SFXX/HFXX - PERA; Authorizing a late disability benefit application in certain cases.
SFXX/HFXX - SPTRFA; Service credit purchase for uncredited prior teaching service
SFXX/HFXX - PERA-P&F; Revise Social Security leveling option to single-life annuity.
SFXX/HFXX - PERA; Purchase of prior service credit for a period of omitted member deductions for certain Inver Grove Heights public school employees.
SFXX/HFXX - TRA; Alternative retirement annuity computation for former Red Lake Senior High School principal.

Wednesday, February 17

10:30 AM
House Bioscience and Workforce Development
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Tim Mahoney
Agenda: Office of the Legislative Auditor report: Workforce Programs