Session Daily: Conference committee takes first look at supplemental budget proposals

SessionDailyPhoto-5-9-2016

Lobbyist Maureen Shaver looks over one of the large stacks of committee documents before the first meeting of the House-Senate supplemental budget conference committee May 9. Photo by Paul Battaglia

By Katie Spielberger, Session Daily

Hundreds of pages comparing House and Senate versions of the omnibus supplemental budget bill come down to a $453.5 million difference in bottom lines. While the House is proposing just under $3.2 million in net supplemental spending for the biennium, the Senate proposal would spend an additional $456.7 million, just short of Gov. Mark Dayton’s $494.5 million proposal.

Here’s a look at some of the differences between the House and Senate:

 

Bigger broadband budget

One major difference between the House and Senate supplemental budget bill comes via how to pay for the Border-to-Border Broadband Plan.

The often-debated House version seeks a $15 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 2017 and $25 million in Fiscal Year 2018 to fund the program.

As one-time appropriations, funds would work to provide high-speed Internet access to Greater Minnesota by furthering availability, testing accuracy and deploying development.

The program would be required to reach underserved areas whose households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds greater than 10-20 megabits per second download and three megabits per second upload, as well as unserved areas at speeds greater than or equal to 10 megabits per second download, and three megabits per second upload.

Dayton has requested $100 million in his supplemental budget to expand broadband funding.

The Senate version comes much closer to meeting that request, while also adding more speed and additional goals.

That body’s proposal would appropriate $85 million in Fiscal Year 2017 for the employment and economic development of the program, while also upping the ante in terms of speed, requiring the program to service underserved areas at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second download, and at least 20 megabits per second upload. Unserved areas would be serviced with speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download, and at least three megabits per second upload.

The Senate version also adds measurable goals for the program to reach, including all Minnesota businesses and homes having access to broadband at a minimum of 25 megabits per second download, and three megabits per second upload by 2022. The goal jumps to 100 megabits download, and 20 megabits upload by 2026.

E-12 Education

Both the House and Senate E-12 education proposals would leverage about $52 million in anticipated savings from allowing school districts to repay their capital loans early. The House would also cancel a $2 million appropriation for Regional Centers of Excellence. The Senate proposal would spend an additional $48 million over the House proposal, including $25 million to establish a voluntary prekindergarten program, one of the governor’s education priorities this session.

Both the House and Senate proposals would fund several programs to address teacher workforce shortages. Major spending differences in the House and Senate budget proposals include the following:

  • the House would spend $7.7 million to extend equity funding to non-metro districts, the Senate zero;
  • the House would spend $5 million on school-linked mental health grants, the Senate zero;
  • the House would spend $7 million in broadband innovation grants, the Senate zero;
  • the Senate would spend $13 million for “Support Our Students” grants for districts to hire counselors and other support staff, the House zero; and
  • the Senate would spend an additional $9.4 million — the House $240,000 — on teacher professional development through the alternative compensation Q Comp program, and $10 million on teacher development and education for districts not part of Q Comp.

Visit http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/sessiondaily/SDView.aspx?StoryID=10218 for the complete article at Session Daily.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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