EXPLAINER: A Sneak Peek of What’s in Minnesota’s Big Budget Bills | state
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – The Minnesota Legislature approached the finish line Wednesday on a state government budget of $ 52 billion for the next two years.
Lawmakers were unable to resolve disputes between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-led Senate before the time limit for the May regular session ran out – even with an expected budget surplus – forcing them to return for a special session which began on June 14.
Controversial policy proposals were largely scrapped as the divided legislature was content with mostly gradual changes. The biggest struggle was over the responsibility of the police. The Democrats were able to adopt a few modest policing measures but settled for less than they wanted. Here’s a look at some highlights of big budget invoices:
Public Security Budget Bill includes new limits on no-hitting warrants and confidential informants, redesigning a statewide police misconduct database to create an early warning system for bad officers; and the obligation for 911 operators to return certain calls to mental health crisis teams. It also includes âsign and releaseâ warrants so that police are not required to arrest low-level offenders who miss a court appearance. Supporters say the provision would have prevented the death of black motorist Daunte Wright, who was killed at the Brooklyn Center after police arrested him for expired license tags and discovered a pending warrant. However, Republicans have blocked an effort to ban âpretextâ stops for minor infractions. The bill also fills in the gaps in state laws on sexual assault.
State government finance bill ends Minnesota‘s COVID-19 peacetime state of emergency effective Thursday, reducing emergency powers Democratic Gov. Tim Walz used to manage the pandemic. The housing budget bill includes a 15-week “exit ramp” to end the moratorium on evictions that Walz imposed at the start of the pandemic. This plan includes deadlines for Minnesotans who owe rent back to get rent assistance, which is paid directly to landlords. Owners will be required to send notices 15 days prior to eviction. Tenants who have applied for but not yet received state rental assistance will be protected from eviction until June 1, 2022.
Businesses that got a rebate on their federal paycheck protection program loans during the pandemic will be allowed to deduct the full amount of their state income taxes. And workers who collect unemployment insurance benefits, including benefits that were increased during the pandemic, will be able to deduct them up to $ 10,200.
Schools will receive more money. The education budget bill includes a 2.5% increase in per student funding in the first year and 2% in the second – the biggest increase in the key formula in 15 years. It also includes money to attract, train and retain teachers of color as part of an effort to reduce racial disparities.
Tuition fee increases will be capped at 3.5% for the next two years for undergraduates in the Minnesota state college and university system. The University of Minnesota’s separate and more autonomous system projects a 1.5% increase.
The transportation bill contains money for two new rapid bus lines for the Twin Cities area, connecting downtown Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota to Edina, and downtown to Blaine. It also preserves the Northstar commuter train line from Big Lake to Minneapolis, which some Republicans wanted to close because ridership plummeted due to the pandemic. And that includes money for a second daily Amtrak train between St. Paul and Chicago starting in 2024. There is also money to equip State Patrol soldiers with body cameras. Unpaid tickets and certain other minor infractions, which disproportionately affect people of color and the poor, will no longer result in a license suspension, or failure to appear in court for a ticket or driving after suspension.
The Trade Budget Bill includes a bill of rights for student loan borrowers. It requires licenses for companies that handle student loans and guarantees to protect students from predatory lenders. It is also creating a pilot project to combat the increase in catalytic converter theft by offering car dealers and scrap dealers grants to mark converters on cars most likely to be targeted.
So-called “chemicals forever,” also known as PFAS, will be banned from food packaging in Minnesota. Senate Republicans have abandoned their efforts to scuttle Democratic Governor Tim Walz’s clean car standards, which are aimed at speeding up the shift to electric cars. But Democratic initiatives to tackle chronic wasting disease were not incorporated into the final bill.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
The health and social services budget extends postpartum coverage, preventive care and benefits for children with asthma in the state medical assistance program. It also includes prevention of smoking and vaping, and contains money to expand the availability of child care. It includes provisions aimed at reducing racial disparities in health care and fostering greater cultural and ethnic diversity in the mental health workforce. And that includes an expansion of telemedicine.
Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison didn’t get the money he wanted in the state government’s budget bill to add more lawyers to his office’s criminal division, which turned to volunteer lawyers to help convict former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. The bill sets out rules to protect the integrity of absentee ballot boxes. And daylight saving time would last year-round if Congress allowed states to make the switch – an idea that has been supported in Washington, DC and more than a dozen states.