State Relations Updates
Last week, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned sine die without passing major supplemental finance bills, a tax bill, or a bonding bill. Despite a historic budget surplus, legislators grappled with election year pressures coupled with no requirement to pass budget or bonding bills.
Yesterday, Vice President of University Services Mike Berthelsen presented the University's Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) request to the Senate Capital Investment Committee. HEAPR funding allows the University to preserve and renew its existing infrastructure across the state to better serve students, support research, maximize its useful life, and ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of building users.
Today marks the second legislative deadline at the Minnesota State Capitol. Committees must act favorably on policy bills both in the House and Senate by the end of the day, or the bills will not move forward this session absent a special rule.
On Monday, February 28, Minnesota Management and Budget released the state’s latest budget forecast, projecting a historic $9.25 billion surplus. Legislative leadership will now work to set spending targets within their caucuses, while budget committee chairs identify spending or tax relief goals and priorities.
On Tuesday, February 15, University leaders and a current student presented the University of Minnesota’s 2022 capital request to the House Capital Investment Committee.
The state legislature completed its second week on Friday, with activity taking place in all committees and hundreds of new bills introduced daily. In fact, more than 1,170 bills were introduced in the session’s first two weeks alone.
On Wednesday, January 26, Governor Tim Walz released the details of his supplemental budget proposal. Minnesota is projected to have a $7.7 billion budget surplus, alongside significant federal funding.
On Tuesday, January 18, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced their statewide capital investment (also known as bonding) recommendations on the Twin Cities campus. President Gabel and CSE student Mustafa Syed also gave remarks and University Architect Marc Partridge led a tour of the Child Development Building, which was funded by the state in 2020.
On July 1, Minnesota’s new two-year $52 billion state budget took effect. This budget, negotiated between Governor Tim Walz, the House DFL majority and the Senate Republican majority, runs through June 30, 2023. Early in the morning of July 1, the legislature passed its final bill, the omnibus tax bill.
After more than ten hours of debate, the omnibus higher education finance and policy bill passed the Minnesota House shortly before midnight, on June 19, by a vote of 71-57. On June 22, the Senate briefly debated the bill before passing it unanimously.
Since the legislature adjourned the regular legislative session on May 17, legislators and the governor have been negotiating the details of the FY 22-23 state budget bills. The bipartisan budget agreement only reflects the total amount they will spend on each budget area, leaving the budget and policy details up to committee working groups. As of today, only three of the fourteen working groups have posted at least a partial agreement.
With only a few days remaining in the 2021 legislative session, it is unlikely that the Minnesota Legislature will finish its work by Monday. Governor Walz and legislative leaders are continuing to negotiate a final budget agreement.
This week, conference committees continued to meet on the budget bills discussing the similarities and differences between the House and Senate proposals. The focus now turns to discussions between Governor Walz and legislative leaders.
There are just over two weeks until the 2021 legislative session is scheduled to conclude on Monday, May 17. This week, the legislature finished passing the remaining omnibus budget bills and the focus will now turn to the conference committee process. The higher education conference committee held two meetings this week.
On Monday, April 19, the House passed its higher education omnibus bill by a vote of 74-59. The bill provides $39.75 million in new operations and maintenance funding for the University in FY22-23, as well as a one-time increase of $2 million for the Natural Resources Research Institute. Now that the House and the Senate have passed their omnibus bills, a conference committee made up of five members from the House and five members from the Senate has been appointed.