Sen. Ingebrigtsen sums up work during special sessionState Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, sent the following e-mail summing up his work at the Legislature during last week's special session:
By: Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, Alexandria Echo Press
State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, sent the following e-mail summing up his work at the Legislature during last week's special session:
After working long hours last week and through the wee hours of the night over the weekend, Governor Dayton and the Republican majority came to an agreement that would solve the budget issue and end the 19-day government shutdown. Gov. Dayton gave up his calls for tax increases and returned to a June 30 GOP budget agreement, adding several conditions including a $500 million construction-bonding bill.
The final budget, which was a tough sell for both sides, for the upcoming 2012-13 biennium is $34.3 billion, which is only $0.3 billion over the legislature’s original proposed spending. We also had great success in turning off the autopilot features that increased state spending over the years as well as including multiple areas of reform. The final package does not raise taxes but does make targeted reductions in eight budget areas and slowing the exponential growth of state spending.
Special Session was called for 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19 and continued throughout the night. All bills passed through both chambers by 4 a.m. Wednesday morning and sent to Governor Dayton who signed them into law early July 20. The longest shutdown in recent U.S. history is now over allowing state parks and rest stops to reopen, road construction to start back up, and putting 22,000 Minnesotans back to work.
ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY & COMMERCE: $252.704 million
As chairman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, we are tasked with putting forth both the Environment Budget Bill as well as the Legacy Bill. I am proud to say that we were able to protect our pristine environment and priorities without any fees or tax increases. Critical issues such as aquatic invasive species and chronic waste disease received substantial increases in funding. It is vital to fight these emerging issues before we lose our Minnesotan lakes and wildlife. Reforms include changes that force state agencies to review water management to streamline and consolidate water programs as well as reform to the state tree nursery program taking them out of competition with the private sector.
LEGACY: $449.842 million
The Senate unanimously passed the Legacy bill, which I had the privilege to be chief author. This legislation appropriates $450 million in FY 2012-13 for Parks and Trails, Outdoor Heritage, Arts, and Clean Water. The dedicated revenue that funds this bill is the result of the 2008 Constitutional amendment that the voters approved for the next 25 years. Some notable changes for rural Minnesota include an exclusive funding source for our rural Regional Parks and a constant appropriation for each county fair in our state. I believe funding projects in rural Minnesota is important and helps preserve our culture and heritage.
TAXES: $2.9 billion
Republicans were able to stand our ground and successfully balance the budget without raising taxes. Governor Mark Dayton started the session with a proposal to raise $4.1 billion in new taxes, which would have made Minnesota an outlier in economic competitiveness, job creation and business development. We do not have a revenue problem in this state, we have a spending problem, so it was important that we do not continue to place that burden on Minnesotans when it is not necessary. The tax bill agreed upon provides direct tax relief to homeowners, farms and small businesses. Includes sales tax exemption for townships and public safety water while also minimizing cuts to local government aid, and provides tax incentives for job creation.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: $11.3 billion
The HHS bill significantly reforms the way public health care is carried out in Minnesota. It establishes a public health care system that is affordable and sustainable while limiting the growth of public health care. This bill also recognizes the ability of everyone, even low income Minnesotans, to make decisions about their own health care. The bill preserves funding for the elderly and the disabled, while reaching the target of $1.049 billion. There is an overall increase of $26 million in nursing home funding. The bill also provides flexibility to ensure effective, quality and accessible health care. Other significant reforms include the repeal of the provider tax while also working to prevent welfare fraud by strengthening welfare eligibility requirements and placing greater restrictions on the use of EBT cards.
STATE GOVERNMENT: $818.9 million
This session, the new majorities were sent to St. Paul to get spending under control and reform state government and we were successful in that mission through the State Government Budget bill. These reforms lay the foundation for long-term costs savings by looking at state government operates and delivers services and determining what changes are necessary. This includes a pay-for-performance pilot project, cost-saving reward programs, and consolidation of services. It also requires performance reviews of state employees and audits. The state will also work with the Federal Government for greater debt collection, and with private agencies for efficiency detection. We will also require contract business to verify citizenship through the E-verify service.
HIGHER EDUCATION: $2.565 billion
The Higher Education bill includes reforms that will require the U of M and MnSCU institutions to meet performance benchmarks before they can receive a portion of their funding. It increases funding for work-study and post-secondary childcare grants in attempts to avoid the student loan debt incurred throughout the years of college. The bill also includes strengthening of the need-based State Grant program, which means more choices in higher education for lower-income students.
EDUCATION: $13.6 billion
Due to the new funding being provided to education, my colleagues and I insisted on several reform measures in order to do more than just “business as usual.” This bill provides mandate relief sought by school district and school administrator associations. We repealed the contract settlement deadline and penalty, as well as the repeal of the safe schools levy maintenance of effort restriction. Integration Revenue will end after FY 2013 and new Literacy Incentive Aid and increased investment in the MN Reading Corps will require school districts to “earn” these funds through student reading test scores in early elementary. Early Graduation Scholarships will allow students who are academically capable and hard working to complete their high school education early and to take the funds that would have been spent on them for additional schooling to the college of their choice.
JOBS/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: $170.3 million
In this bill, reform is created (with the support of the Legislative Auditor) in the area of economic development area through the creation of three competitive grant programs rather than the bureaucratic process of pass-through grants and legislative earmarking. We worked to jump start small business expansion by creating a small business loan-guarantee program to help secure much needed capital.
JUDICIARY/PUBLIC SAFETY: $1.807 billion
During tough budget times, we have to make core services, like courts and public safety, a priority. In this bill, we accomplished reforms including the following: allowing judges to consider a person’s entire financial picture when deciding appropriate payment for these services as clients are able to pay; allowing counties to reimburse costs of medical services to local prisoners at the medical assistance rate rather than the negotiated provider rate; and prioritizing the use of state funds on state cases over federal cases.
TRANSPORTATION: $4.74 billion
This is a fiscally responsible bill focused on preserving current systems and putting the brakes on light rail expansion the state cannot afford to build or operate. This bill improves transit financing disclosure and public transparency. Through this provision, transit corridor development planners to provide the total cost of proposed transit systems, including both capital and long-term operating expenses.
BONDING: $497 million
Although a demand of the Governor to end the state shutdown, the Republican-written bonding bill met statewide and regional criteria, stressing long-term needs, not short-term wants, and was focused on flood relief, roads and infrastructure. No funding went toward conventions centers or stadiums, while most went toward asset preservation, roads and bridges, Reinvest in Minnesota, and flood hazard mitigation.
Agriculture: $76.601 million
This bill prioritizes funding to maintain the integrity and safety of the food supply in Minnesota. Also, there is no reduction in funding for retail food handling and meatpacking inspections.
For detailed information on these bills:
Senator Ingebrigtsen can be reached at (651) 297-8063, by mail at 303 State Capitol Building, 75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155, or via e-mail at email@example.com.