A look at the details in the latest bills

  • Updated: July 20, 2011 - 2:39 PM
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Leaning on a bust of former Gov. Cushman Davis, Republican state Sen. Chris Gerlach of Apple Valley chatted with GOP state Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie before the start of a special session at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Tuesday.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Gov. Mark Dayton and lawmakers reached agreement on a new set of budget bills that the Legislature is scheduled to pass by Thursday, when the special session that started Tuesday must end. Here's a summary of the bills that were available Tuesday, how much is spent and what's new.

BONDING -- $500 MILLION

The bonding bill gives a big boost to projects at the state's colleges and universities.

About 37 percent of the bill, which borrows money to pay for infrastructure projects, was allocated to the University of Minnesota and MnSCU system. Altogether, that amounts to $186 million with $88 million going to the U and $97 million to MnSCU.

A lot of that money, $55 million, will pay for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR). Another $51 million goes to physics and nanotechnology at the U.

The Department of Natural Resources also received a substantial $100 million boost in the bonding bill. About $50 million of that will go toward flood hazard mitigation.

Other winners? The bonding bill sends $55 million to the Department of Transportation for bridge and road improvements. It allocates another $25 million to the Met Council for transit improvement.

The full list of projects:

ERIC ROPER

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES -- $11.3 BILLION

State spending for health and Human Services will be up from about $10.2 billion this biennium but well below the $12.3 billion projected under current law.

The bill preserves some policies that Republicans had rejected in the bill Dayton vetoed, including shifting 125,000 poor, childless adults from two state programs onto Medicaid, accepting federal health-care overhaul money and continuing to collect blood samples from newborns to screen for more than 50 disorders.

But the state will seek federal permission sought by Republicans to make broad changes in state health programs, which account for about half the budget.

The bill makes small cuts to doctor, hospital and other care provider rates and cuts about $400 million from Medicaid spending through competitive contracts and other measures.

About 7,200 adults on MinnesotaCare, the state health plan for lower-income working people, will get vouchers to buy private insurance. Affected are those earning more than 200 percent of poverty.

The state's 2 percent tax on health care providers, begun in 1992 to finance MinnesotaCare, will end in 2019 as other health care options expand.

Adults with disabilities on Medicaid fee-for-service plans will be shifted to new HMO plans, but allowed to opt out. Cuts of about $147 million in disability services are similar to the bill Dayton vetoed.

The bill preserves nursing home rates but ends a 2007 provision to recalculate and raise rates by about $133 million in 2014-15.

WARREN WOLFE

TRANSPORTATION

- $125 MILLION

Twin Cities bus and rail passengers wouldn't face fare hikes or service cuts under the new transportation budget agreement, transit officials said Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Council, which oversees transit, had warned of fares hikes approaching 50 cents and service cutbacks of 25 percent because of a budget passed in May by the GOP-led Legislature. Dayton vetoed that legislation, which would have cut $109 million for metro transit over two years.

But the deal between Dayton and GOP leaders would cut $52 million in 2012-13 -- a 40 percent reduction from what had been budgeted.

"Transit service would be maintained at current levels, without a fare increase," the Met Council said.

The $52 million in lost state operating funds would be replaced in part by tapping sales tax money that had been earmarked for expanding transit in five counties, the council said. The Met Council also would reduce funding to suburban carriers having a surplus, draw on reserves and cut administrative expenses.

The Met Council had scheduled a series of public hearings in August on possible fare hikes and service cuts in early 2012. With passage of the transportation bills, "I presume that we would cancel the scheduled public hearings," council spokeswoman Bonnie Kollodge said. Service cuts due to low ridership could still occur.

The transportation bill also would restore $1 million in general fund money to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for developing high-speed rail.

PAT DOYLE

HIGHER EDUCATION - $2.5 BILLION

The final higher education budget makes significant cuts to the state's funding of colleges and universities. It spends about $60 million more than the original GOP proposal and $180 million less than Dayton requested.

The University of Minnesota and MnSCU system sustain a 10.5 percent cut from their 2010-11 funding levels.

When projected funding for the next two years is factored in, those cuts are deeper. For the U, the budget is a 15.1 percent cut from the forecast base. For MnSCU, that cut is 13.5 percent.

The general fund allocation for MnSCU and the U was $1.09 billion each.

About 1 percent of that funding is tied to the systems meeting certain benchmarks, including improving graduation rates. In a statement, U President Eric Kaler said he expects the university to meet those goals.

Kaler praised Dayton and lawmakers for restoring some funding for the U. But he also stressed that the bill still represents a deep cut.

Human cloning restrictions, which may have affected stem cell research, were nixed. Also eliminated: provisions in the GOP budget that prevented MnSCU and the U from raising tuition more than a certain percentage each year. It kept tuition restraints for MnSCU's two-year community and technical colleges. But now, it's a 4 percent cap, rather than the 3 percent limit that GOP lawmakers passed.

That means it's OK that tuition increases for the two-year colleges the MnSCU Board of Trustees passed in June averaged 3.7 percent. The board would have had to make changes had the final bill capped tuition increases at 3 percent.

The bill spends $361 million on financial aid programs, the exact amount GOP lawmakers wanted.

JENNA ROSS AND ERIC ROPER

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES - $238 MILLION

It's not yet clear yet how the proposed environmental bill would affect the Department of Natural Resources, according to Commissioner Tom Landwehr. But the agency's budget shrinks, and he said that would have a disproportionate effect on parks, ecological and water resources, and forestry.

The state parks get a temporary boost from one-time funding through state lottery money, he said. But that will run out in two years.

In all, environmental funding took a $32 million cut from projected costs over the next two years, said Steve Morse, executive director for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. But that still leaves $20 million more than the Republicans had proposed spending on environmental programs at the end of the regular session. 

"It's hard to get excited about it," he said. "Instead of taking off an arm, we are hemorrhaging badly."

JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY

JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - $170 MILLION

Creates a $2.4 million workforce development grant program for young people. Overall, workforce development programs will spend nearly $94 million, the amount requested by Dayton. Another new program will spend $6.2 million on contamination cleanup around the state.

ERIC ROPER

PUBLIC SAFETY AND JUDICIARY - $1.8 BILLION

The bill, which funds prisons, courts and law enforcement programs, will get $40 million more than under the GOP proposal and $20 million less than under Dayton's requests. The Office of Justice Programs will get $10 million more than in the GOP budget, $6 million less than what Dayton recommended. It restores most of the funding Dayton wanted for the Human Rights Department. Dayton wanted $6.6 million, while Republicans wanted $2.3 million. They agreed to $6.3 million.

ERIC ROPER

LEGACY -- $450 MILLION

The bill, which uses revenue generated by a special state sales tax for outdoor, parks, arts and cultural projects, represents some of the only new state spending. It creates a new $2.65 million competitive annual grant program for public radio stations, boosts funding to the Historical Society by 15 percent and provides nearly $7 million to regional libraries. It also establishes a new State Capitol Preservation Commission.

KEVIN DUCHSCHERE

TAXES -- $2.9 BILLION

The bill makes permanent reductions in local government aid to cities ($203 million/biennium), county program aid ($64 million/biennium) and the renter's credit program ($46 million/biennium), but increases the property tax refund program by $30 million. It sells $640 million in bonds backed by tobacco settlement money. Suspends (but doesn't eliminate) the political contribution refund program for two years.

KEVIN DUCHSCHERE

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