Minn House passes budget E-12; The Senate should adopt health and social services


Saturday, June 26 was marked by hours of debate in the House, legislative maneuvers in the Senate and the promulgation of five budgets by Governor Tim Walz. Here is the recap of what happened in Saint-Paul.

Walz signs five budgets

Five of the 13 budget bills are complete, thanks to the signature of Governor Tim Walz: inheritance, higher education, agriculture, transport and trade and energy.

In a written statement on Saturday, Walz said the five bills “will not only help Minnesota recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but bring us back better than ever.”

He also lobbied the legislature to wrap things up, with the June 30 deadline only days away: “Minnesota is ready to put this pandemic behind us. It is time for the Legislature to finish the job, ”he said.

Walz reiterated on Friday that the public safety bill still has the most disagreement between the Democratic-majority House and the Republican-majority Senate. Although it is on the wire, most of the remaining bills appear to move at a steady pace through debates and votes on the ground.

E-12 Education

The House spent hours on Saturday debating a gigantic part of the total state budget: E-12 public education. The House ultimately passed the historically strong budget by 105 to 20 votes, and it can now travel to the Senate for approval before reaching Walz’s office for his signature.

The plan includes a 2.45% funding increase over current levels in its first year, and a subsequent 2% increase over that amount in its second year. This equates to Minnesota’s largest increase in funding for public education in 15 years, amounting to an increase of about $ 1 billion over the next four years.

School choice waivers, a political priority for legislative Republicans, were not included in the final version of the bill. The omnibus includes measures to recruit more teachers of color and improve student literacy rates, as well as to preserve 4,000 pre-K slots for young Minnesotans.

Rep. Ruth Richardson, D-Mendota Heights, is the House Education Policy Chair. In a written statement after the vote, she noted that Minnesota is home to some of the nation’s worst racial disparities in education. She said the budget passed on Saturday hopes to fill those gaps – especially after the tumultuous coronavirus pandemic upended public education and disproportionately affected Minnesotans of color.

“Over the past year and a half, our students have had to improvise and adapt to a global pandemic,” she said. “The leadership that Minnesota teachers have shown in overcoming adversity and running their hands over a computer screen to ensure our children’s learning deserves more than just recognition, it deserves funding. “

Health and social services

Another giant budget that must be approved is the state’s health and social services bill, which will be debated in the Senate on Saturday night. After its approval in the Senate, it can pass to the House before being promulgated.

Employment and economic development

The jobs and economic development budget previously agreed by lawmakers is coming back to the drawing board. House Democrats and Senate Republicans are fighting over a Democrat-backed provision to strengthen training and safety requirements for oil refinery workers.

On Saturday, the Senate voted 37 to 29 to reject the latest version of the House budget, which includes refinery language, so the omnibus now returns to a conference committee.

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