Friday, April 9, 2010

Budget on hold, House advances policy bill- again, Budget planning for FY2012-13, Congressional TRiO reception held

Legislative Update
April 9, 2010

Lawmakers return from break to a holding pattern on the budget

Legislators returned to St. Paul this week after a weeklong recess in their home districts and met almost daily to process bills and send them to Gov. Tim Pawlenty. House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said the week was productive, with the House passing about 30 bills off the floor. Sertich said he anticipates more bill work on the floor next week. One of the bills passed by the House was SF 2425. The bill clarifies that under Minnesota law, mental health information can be disclosed in health and safety emergencies consistent with requirements of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. FERPA authorizes colleges and universities to determine that a health and safety emergency exists and to disclose health information to appropriate parties, including parents. The Senate passed the bill March 29, so it now heads to the governor.

Over the legislative break, Pawlenty signed the supplemental budget bill into law. Chapter 215 can be found here. The bill is the first of three budget-balancing measures lawmakers is considering to resolve the almost $1 billion budget deficit this biennium. The next two budget bills will cover health and human services and K-12 education. However, lawmakers are in a holding pattern while closely monitoring Minnesota’s share of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Majority Leader Sertich said it would be “unwise” for legislators to move forward on the health and human services budget without a clear understanding of the federal law. Sertich also said that if there has been no action in Washington, D.C., by May, lawmakers will need to start “discussing other options.”

When asked about recessing until the state budget picture becomes clearer, Sertich said both the DFL and Republicans have agreed to take a recess for each party’s convention in late April. House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he had hoped to be done with the budget by April 15 or at the latest May 1 but characterized this week as a “do nothing” week. Zellers said lawmakers should be addressing health and human services and K-12 education together now so lawmakers can see where they are instead of waiting and then rushing in May.

When asked how long the Legislature can stay in a holding pattern, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, responded that something will need to be done in the next two to three weeks. Pogemiller said he would not want to go into May without having processed a health and human services bill with or without the $400 million in federal funds. Pogemiller said he personally is not interested in recessing but that there is no reason for people to sit around the Capitol if they are not productive.

Second higher education policy bill adopted in House committee

Members of the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division adopted a second omnibus policy bill this week. HF 3448 includes provisions from the first committee policy bill and provisions from other bills. The bill includes language that raises the age of a senior citizen in statute from 62 to 66 to receive a tuition discount; caps the one-time grant for the high school-to-college developmental transition program at $1 million; and establishes the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities central system office and provides for general duties of the office.

The supplemental budget bill signed by the governor earlier this session raised the revenue fund authority in statute from $200 million to $300 million for colleges and universities to construct projects such as parking lots, wellness centers and dormitories. HF 3448 brings that authority increase down to $275 million. The bill also clarifies the system's base budget for fiscal years 2012-13 for operations and maintenance at the colleges and universities to be $580.8 million each year.

Language in the bill requires the system, the Chamber of Commerce and representatives of industry groups and labor unions to study program requirements for certificates and diplomas to determine the feasibility of designing technical education programs so students could have more opportunities to earn credentials with lower credit requirements that could be combined into higher-level certificates or diplomas. A provision requires the system office to streamline services provided through the office to reduce expenditures, better target the use of state resources, and provide services at the most appropriate and efficient level so as not to duplicate services provided at the institution level.

Additional language in the bill is taken from the first policy bill, HF 3495, on credit transfer, postretirement health insurance premium reimbursements, a pilot project on the local deposit of reserves and a provision stating the system office cannot pass any reductions through to the institutions. The bill, as amended, was passed and referred to the Finance committee, where it will be heard Wednesday.

Budget planning begins for next biennium

With a $5.8 billion budget deficit projected for the 2012-13 biennium, the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division heard from the higher education systems this week how colleges and universities are preparing for a likely budget reduction next biennium. St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter said his university is considering retrenchment and faculty layoffs. Potter testified about the open communication process the university has undertaken with the entire St. Cloud community. North Hennepin Community College President Ann Wynia told committee members she is concerned about the 2012-13 biennium, especially since the one-time federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will no longer be available. Wynia said the college's enrollment is at an all-time high, but the worst thing would be to turn away students due to budget reductions. Laura King, vice chancellor and chief financial officer for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, said the system’s institutions are being asked to plan for a $100 million to $150 million cut to the system for the next biennium. King said the number is based on the system’s possible share of the projected $5.8 billion deficit. “That would be a spectacularly damaging number,” King said. The committee discussion was centered around 2012-2013 budget planning reports prepared by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the University of Minnesota. The system report can be found here.

Congressional reception highlights Minnesota TRiO programs

Minnesota TRiO, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, the Minnesota Private College Council and the Council for Opportunity in Education hosted a congressional reception this week at Metropolitan State University to learn more about Minnesota TRiO programs.

TRiO programs were established during the 1960s as a national initiative to increase the availability of and success in postsecondary education for low-income, first-generation and traditionally underrepresented students. Two alumni of Minnesota TRiO programs and two Minnesota TRiO scholarship recipients spoke about the impact that the programs have had on their lives. Congressional staff and state legislators learned about the mission and the benefits that TRiO programs provide to the state of Minnesota.

Although Minnesota TRiO is one of the largest and longest running college access programs, the programs currently are funded to serve only 7 percent of eligible participants in the state. Lawmakers learned what level funding of the program has meant: a reduction of approximately 40,000 students over the last five years. TRiO advocates informed participants at the reception that the cost effectiveness of the TRiO programs is proven through measurable outcomes that demonstrate increased access to higher education and educational success for its participants.

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 legislative Web site.

Monday, April 12

9:00 AM
Joint Committee: LCPFP Subcommittee on a Balanced Budget
Room: 15 Capitol
Chairs: Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sen. Lawrence J. Pogemiller
Agenda: Update on cash flow

11:00 AM
House in Session

12:00 PM
Senate in Session

Tuesday, April 13

9:30 AM
House Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
HF2690 (Sertich) Executive agency appropriations required to include proportionate reductions in expenditures on contracts, and requirements provided during periods of projected deficits.
HF2116 (Hansen) Vehicle transaction fees increased, acceptable methods of payment provided, and surcharge imposed.
HF605 (Hortman) Transportation Department management, priorities, research, and planning provisions modified.
HF2613 (Hilstrom) Mediation provided prior to commencement of mortgage foreclosure proceedings on homestead property, and homestead-lender mediation account created.
HF2600 (Mullery) Licensing and regulation provided for an individual engaged in the business of a mortgage loan originator or the mortgage loan business.
HF3122 (Juhnke) Licensing and regulation provided for appraisal management companies, and real estate appraiser advisory board regulated.
HF2562 (Thissen) COBRA premium state subsidy eligibility extended, and unexpected funds carry forward authorized for COBRA grants.
HF2405 (Reinert) Temporary successors provided to members of the legislature called into active military service, implementation of statutory language provided, and constitutional amendment proposed.
HF2577 (Carlson) Legislators allowed to call a special session, and constitutional amendment proposed.
HF3458 (Shimanski) Minnesota Department of Transportation consultation required on roundabout design.

10:30 AM
Housing Finance and Policy and Public Health Finance Division
Room: Basement State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Karen Clark
Agenda: SF2996 (Urdahl) School concession stands established as a specific category of food and beverage service establishments.
Discussion on Nanotechnology

12:30 PM
Senate Higher Education Budget and Policy Division
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Sandra Pappas
Agenda: S.F. 3014-Saltzman: Minnesota Science and Technology Authority Act

12:30 PM
House in Session

Wednesday, April 14

8:30 AM
House Finance
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Lyndon Carlson
SF2758 (Bunn) Minnesota entrepreneur virtual assistance network authorized, and money appropriated.
HF3739 (Carlson) Bond allocation limits modified, and transfer authorized.
HF3757 (Hilty) Security transaction security exemptions modified, and money appropriated for the state grant program.
HF3448 (Rukavina) Minnesota State Colleges and Universities; pilot project established for the local deposit of certain reserves.
HF3046 (Ruud) Birthing centers licensure established

Thursday, April 15

9:00 AM
House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections
Room: 200 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Gene Pelowski
Agenda: HF2227 (Hilty) Board of Innovation reestablished, powers and duties imposed, and money appropriated.

12:30 PM
House in Session

Friday, April 16

8:30 AM
Senate Finance
Room: 123 Capitol
Chair: Sen. Richard J. Cohen
S.F. 2682-Erickson Ropes: Fillmore county veterans cemetery funding.
S.F. 3079-Sheran: Postsecondary enrollment options program modifications.
S.F. 560-Latz: Criminal records expungement law provisions expansion and modifications.
S.F. 2493-Moua: Crime of identity theft expansion to include scanning and reencoder use to acquire information from payment cards.
S.F. 2725-Moua: Gang and drug oversight council name change to violent crime oversight council; multijurisdictional gang and drug task forces certification process; criminal gang investigative data systems; intrastate data classification; cell phone tracking devices.
S.F. 2620-Bonoff: Service innovation commission establishment.
S.F. 214-Betzold: Notaries public regulations and fees modifications.
S.F. 2364-Pappas: Higher education facilities authority revenue bond limit increase.
S.F. 2940-Fischbach: Zero-based budgeting requirement for state government.