The following information was shared with the library community via the MLA and ITEM Legislative Update Newsletter Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by Sam Walseth, Capitol Hill Associates, in his role as the MLA-ITEM lobbyist.
Governor Walz called the legislature in for a special session last Friday. The leadership budget deal that was reached on Sunday, May 19th called for a one-day special session to pass the unfinished budget bills. Despite some saber rattling by the minority caucuses about prolonging the special session, they were able to come in Friday morning and get all of the budget bill passed by 7am Saturday morning. With that, legislative activity is done in Minnesota until the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
Despite our strong efforts and the advocacy of Rep. Mary Murhpy and Sen. Mark Johnson, the additional funding and distribution formula change for the 12 regional public library systems was not included in the final education bill. In fact, very little beyond the three major education funding pieces; 2&2 on the basic formula, special education cross-subsidy aid and preK funding, made it into the final E-12 bill. The growth of preK in the E-12 bill continues to drown out other funding initiatives that aren’t directly tied to the core classroom. PreK funding will continue to pose a challenge as the newly adopted PreK funding was only set for two years; therefore school districts will be back in 2021 seeking to secure those dollars again.
Libraries will see a slight increase in the amount of Legacy funding they have to spend. $2.55 million/year for the next two years is appropriated for library Legacy programming.
A bonding bill didn’t emerge this session, despite being a stated part of the leadership budget deal. 2020 will see a push for a large bonding bill on the part of Governor Walz and the House DFL.