Brief Legislative Update on the Budget Bills (3/29/17)

Hello! We are sorry that we have gotten behind on sending out legislative updates. Our contract renewal with our videographer was delayed and we couldn’t produce videos until it was signed. We decided we would do a brief update and share a little about what has happened. This is temporary until we can resume our regular updates (soon). We will share more details in the next update.

All the deadlines in the House and the Senate have ended. Now the House and Senate are both in the process of putting together their budget proposals and deciding which bills to include. They will each write separate budget bills and pass them. Then they will negotiate with each other to work out the differences. Once the Senate bills and the House bills are passed, they will also have to negotiate with Governor Dayton.

Republicans control both the House and the Senate. They want to pass very large tax cuts. To do so, they need to cut the budget in other places. They are proposing budget cuts for many state agencies – even agencies that have asked for more funding because they do not get enough funding now to provide all of the services that people need.

The biggest cuts are being made to the Department of Human Services and to the Department of Health. The House and Senate are proposing to take away hundreds of millions of dollars from them. There are huge cuts to mental health services, to family planning services, and to the State Hospital.

Here is what we know so far about the bills the Commission is supporting that include budget increases:

Good news first:

Both the House and Senate Health & Human Service Omnibus Bills include the additional funding that we requested for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division — $1.6 million per year, ongoing into the future. This includes an ongoing increase in funding for the Deaf Family Mentor Program.

Both the House and Senate bills include a funding increase for the Commission — $370,000 per year, ongoing into the future.

Now the bad news:

Neither the House nor the Senate Education Omnibus Finance bills include additional funding for Adult Basic Education (ABE).

For the Minnesota State Academies, the Senate Education Omnibus Finance Bill includes some of the increase in funding that the Minnesota State Academies requested — $400,000 per year, ongoing into the future. This is much less than what the Academies wanted.

The House Education Omnibus Finance Bill does not include any of the funding increase that the State Academies requested.

Finally, the Commission is supporting an increase in funding for Vocational Rehabilitation, since there are waiting lists for these services. The Governor had proposed an increase of $3.5 million for Vocational Rehabilitation services. Neither the House nor the Senate Jobs bill includes any increase in funding for Vocational Rehabilitation. This means there are long waiting lists for people who need their services to get jobs.

The other bills that the Commission is working on this year do not impact the state budget.

We will provide a more detailed update soon. Thanks for your advocacy! It makes a difference. Please keep it up.

For more information and to sign up for alerts, visit our website. www.mncdhh.org

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