The Senate endorsed the legislative agreements to fund higher education and combat the opioid epidemic prior to closing the 2019 regular session.
Under the agreement to fight opioid addiction, manufacturers will be charged significantly higher licensing fees over the next five years to raise funds supporting prevention, child protection and outreach efforts.
In the area of higher education, the agreement calls for an $150 million additional dollars and boosts scholarship funds, caps tuition increases and aids workforce development programs.
The Senate and House agreement to fund an effort to curb opioid addiction and its effects gained approval of key Senate and House members Monday, May 20. The agreement will be sent to the full bodies for final approval.
Under the plan, opiate manufacturers will be charged significantly higher licensing fees over the next five years to raise funds supporting prevention, child protection and outreach efforts.
Prior to a vote on the agreement, Representative Dave Baker, R-Willmar, and Senator Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center, spoke passionately about the effort. Both Baker and Eaton lost children to opioid addiction.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka addressed the media Monday, May 20, to outline the remaining steps needed to finalize the state's FY 2020-2021 budget.
According to Gazelka, conference committees have until 5 p.m. Monday to finalize Senate and House budget agreements. If the deadline is not met, the remaining issues will be resolved by Governor Walz, Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Gazelka. The Legislature must adjourn by midnight, May 20.
Gazelka said despite the amount of work before the legislators, he remains hopeful that a special session could be called for Thursday, May 23, to pass the major budget bills.
Governor Tim Walz and legislative leaders reached a budget accord Sunday, May 19, one day prior to the mandatory date of adjournment. With many details yet to be hammered out by conference committee members and state commissioners, a special session will be required before the budget is passed and enacted.
Under the agreement, E-12 Education will receive an additional $540 million dollars, with the general education formula increased by two percent each year in Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021. Another $358 million is earmarked for health and human services, and the health care provider tax will continue at 1.8 percent. Also, the health care reinsurance program will continue for another two years, according to the agreement.
The budget agreement also includes a tax cut for the middle class with .25 percent rate reduction to the income tax second tier. However, the agreement excludes a gas tax hike.
Another $150 million dollars is designated for higher education, and $125 million additional dollars for public safety, including the hiring of more prison guards. Furthermore, $40 million additional dollars is designated for broadband.
Finally, the bill calls for $440 million dollars in General Obligation Bonds and $60 million dollars for Housing Infrastructure Bonds.
Minnesotans are looking forward to summer in Minnesota, including days at the lake, the State Fair and fireworks. Senator Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, introduced a bill this session that would expand the kinds of fireworks that can be used in Minnesota. He joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the types of fireworks he hopes Minnesotans can use in the future.
Senator Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, is hoping to ask voters in the next general election whether the state's constitution should be amended to require that funds be dedicated for caring for seniors and people with disabilities. He joins Shannon to talk about the proposal.
Also in the program, lawmakers and advocates make the case for a resolution that would hold pharmaceutical companies liable for adverse side-effects resulting from vaccines.
As budget negotiations continue, Governor Tim Walz rallied with teachers in the rotunda Saturday, May 18, while Senate Republicans touted their plan to continue state funding should negotiations fail.