2016 Legislative Hot Topics
2016 Governor's Bonding Recommendations
End of 2016 Session Wrap-up
There were some key pieces of legislation that did pass that affect our institutions. The legislature did not pass a bonding bill, and a tax bill with student debt relief was vetoed due to a drafting error. Below is a list of what passed and what was defeated by your IFO public affairs staff.
- IFO Contract — PASSED
- MnSCU supplemental funding — PASSED
- MnSCU only received $570,000 of the $21 million request for supplemental funds. If a special session is called, there is a chance, albeit very slim, for legislators to increase that number. We have already begun taking steps to get to the Governor and ask that he prioritize our request if additional negotiations commence.
- Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) - DID NOT PASS
- The legislature did not provide funds for PERB to begin operating and delayed implementation of the PERB board for one more year.
- Capital Investment (Bonding) - DID NOT PASS
- In the final version of the bonding bill that was not agreed to there was $35 million for maintenance at MnSCU facilities (commonly referred to as HEAPR) and funds for the projects at Winona State University and St. Cloud State University. This bill was not passed due to failed negotiations between the House and Senate leadership.
- Anti-Academic Freedom Proposals – DID NOT PASS
- We were very successful in getting legislators to resist numerous anti-academic freedom initiatives, especially misguided reforms at developmental education. There were not any anti-academic freedom provisions included in the final supplemental budget bill.
- Pension Reforms - VETOED
- The legislature passed the first part of pension sustainability plans for TRA. It includes COLA increases for current retirees. The bargaining units in TRA, including the IFO opposed this bill, but it was passed and sent to the Governor. He has not indicated his position on this bill yet. The piece that was missing from the sustainability package was the increase in employer contribution, so it unfairly relies on the employee to make up for the TRA projected shortfalls. Gov. Dayton vetoed this bill. TRA will return in 2017 and work towards a full sustainability package.
- E-12 Funding - PASSED
- There were 2 provisions in the E-12 article of the supplemental funding bill that will help our universities. Southwest MN State University will receive $385,000 for a special education program. MN State University, Moorhead will be a partner in the $3 million appropriation to the Northwest Minnesota Coop that will be used to bring high school faculty into compliance with the new HLC requirements for teaching concurrent enrollment courses.
- Student Debt Tax Credit – VETOED
This provision creates a credit of up to $1,000 for eligible individuals and their parents who are paying for student loans. This tax credit will cost the state $36.1 million in 2016-17 and $74.6 million in 2018-19. This provision was included in a comprehensive tax bill that was vetoed due to an editing error.
The percentages of student loan payments eligible for the credit were:
- 50% of qualified educational loans.
- 65% of qualified loans for eligible individuals in a public service job.
- 75% of qualified loans for eligible individuals in an education profession.
- The IFO would have preferred these dollars be spent on the front end towards keeping tuition low, but the legislature wanted to help those already suffering from debilitating debt. This is a first in the country program like this, and prioritizes Minnesotans who work in public service, and educators.