A Look At Some Aspects Of 3 Minnesota Budget Bills
The Minnesota Legislature took up three budget bills Friday as the deadline approaches to pass a two-year budget.
The House considered bills dealing with environmental and natural resource programs as well as state agency operations. The Senate acted on a bill to pay for health, human services and related programs. The three bills will be part of end-of-session budget negotiations among legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton.
Here are some key elements of those bills:
HOUSE ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES BILL
- Replaces a requirement that boaters complete aquatic invasive species training and post a decal on trailers with a new affirmation of awareness.
- Establishes a new competitive grant program aimed at increasing recycling rates in rural Minnesota communities that have less than 45,000 residents.
- Gives the Legislature veto power over water quality and other environmental rules deemed to have a significant financial impact on permit applicants.
- Shakes up the makeup and duties of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency citizen's board.
- Includes money for study of health impacts of crumb rubber in synthetic-turf athletic fields.
- Proposes a new, site-specific approach for protecting water quality against sulfate pollution.
HOUSE STATE GOVERNMENT FINANCE BILL
- Caps the state's employee numbers at roughly 36,000.
- Limits salary hikes for the governor's cabinet members - those increases could be no larger than the bumps in Minnesota residents' median incomes or the rate of inflation.
- Cuts the new Metropolitan Council chair's salary in half and removes the governor's authority to appoint council members, requiring them to be elected city or county officials.
- Reduces staff budgets for the House and Senate by 5 percent.
- Eliminates the grand total limits on how much money political candidates can accept from lobbyists and outside political funds.
- Repeals the state's public campaign subsidy program, which is funded through an income tax check-off.
SENATE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES BILL
- Directs $52 million more to child-protection programs to provide more staff to investigate abuse claims and oversight.
- Increases monthly grants to welfare recipients by $100.
- Restructures the MNsure health insurance exchange to move it from an independently governed entity to a state agency.
- Provides additional money for Minnesota sex offender evaluations and appeals of civil confinement decisions.
- Boosts payment increases to nursing home facilities by $25.1 million, or an average of 5 percent per facility, to increase wages and benefits of workers.
- Modifies and adds to the rural health professional loan forgiveness program to cope with dentist, doctor and nurse shortages in remote places.
- Expands programs to assist homeless or sexually exploited youth.
- Supplies $36 million in grants for improvements to mental health treatment.