Updates from the Government Relations team are sent periodically during the legislative session.                                                  
Legislative Update - May 23, 2016
Governor Dayton will hold a news conference today at 2:00 p.m. Watch your local media for information or to view.
Chaotic end to 2016 legislative session results in no bonding bill

House and Senate lawmakers failed late Sunday to pass a roughly $1 billion borrowing package for public works projects across the state — traditionally the centerpiece of even-year legislative years — in the chaotic final minutes of the 2016 session.

The proposal represented a hastily-assembled compromise reached following a protracted weekend of conference committee and leadership negotiations held behind closed doors.

According to spreadsheets distributed as debate on the bonding bill began, it would have authorized $818 million in total bonding as part of a $1.1 billion package for public works spending on projects like rail crossing safety upgrades, water infrastructure improvements, and road and bridge projects.

Rolled out with roughly an hour remaining before the Legislature’s constitutionally-mandated midnight deadline, the proposal was amended onto an existing capital investment bill, HF622, that had failed earlier in the week.

The House passed the bill, as amended, 91-39 with minutes to spare following a stormy debate that saw members shouting on the House Floor. It was then amended further in the Senate to include funding for the proposed Southwest light rail line from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie — a key sticking point in negotiations between the Republican-controlled House and DFL-controlled Senate in recent weeks.

The House, though, adjourned sine die before the amended version of HF622 was returned to the House for a final vote.

The bill would have poured almost $700 million in one-time dollars — consisting of $236 million in general-obligation bonding, $265.5 million in General Fund dollars and $181 million in Trunk Highway spending, according to House Republicans — into transportation projects, far more than originally proposed in the version of HF622 that failed to garner the required three-fifths majority to pass earlier in the week.

The bonding bill would have included $107 million for MnSCU which would have provided $35 million in HEAPR and the remaining to fund projects at the following campuses: South Central College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College (Fergus Falls and Wadena), Northland Community and Technical College, Hibbing Community College, Winona State University, St. Cloud State University, and Riverland College.

Summary of bills that passed this weekend

Lawmakers reached agreement on a number of bills. In the coming day, we will distribute a legislative summary that will highlight key provisions that include higher education and could impact students, faculty, or staff. Below are brief details on a few bills:

  • Labor agreements: The contract bill (SF2626) passed both the House and the Senate which includes classified staff, faculty, and administrator agreements. The bill goes to the governor.
  • Tax bill: The omnibus tax bill passed both the House and the Senate where the next stop is the governor. The tax bill provides two provisions of interest to higher education - Student loan credit and College savings plans.
    • Student loan credit: $36.5 million in 2017, $75.4 million in the next biennium. This provision creates a credit of up to $1,000 for eligible individuals who are paying for student loans. The percentages of student loan payments eligible for the credit are:
      • 50 percent of qualified educational loans.
      • 65 percent of qualified loans for eligible individuals in a public service job.
      • 75 percent of qualified loans for eligible individuals in an education profession.
    • College savings plans: $15.8 million in 2017, $33.2 million in the next biennium. This bill establishes a maximum credit of $500 per year and an income tax subtraction of up to $1,500 for qualified contributions to Minnesota’s 529 college savings plans.
  • Supplemental bill: The $182 million omnibus supplemental budget bill passed both the House and the Senate on Sunday evening. The 599-page document contained $5 million for higher education that included $570,000 to MnSCU base and an additional $200,000 in one-time funds to support open textbook initiatives. $500,000 is set aside for equity in post-secondary grants which will be administered by OHE and available to MnSCU. The fiscal spreadsheets are available HERE by article.

Government Relations team:

Jaime Simonsen – Jaime.simonsen@so.mnscu.edu
Bernie Omann – Bernie.omann@so.mnscu.edu
Jim Grathwol – jim.grathwol@so.mnscu.edu