The following update on the 2019 Minnesota state legislative session is provided by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Church’s official public policy voice in the state.
The big news at the Capitol last week was the release by the Minnesota House and Senate of their budget targets. These targets are important because they set a framework for how much spending each committee is allowed to do in relationship to the overall state budget.
The Democratic House majority is proposing spending $49.8 billion over the next two years. This is a $417 million increase over the current budget.
The Republican Senate majority has proposed a $47.6 billion budget for the next two years.
Gov. Tim Walz has also put forward a budget proposal to show what his spending priorities are for the session. The governor’s budget is $49.35 billion for the coming biennium.
With the release of these numbers by the Legislature and governor, the work of crafting omnibus (state government funding) budget bills can begin at the Capitol.
Last week also wrapped up the second deadline for legislation (that are not major finance bills) to be heard at the Capitol. The deadline for those bills will be the third committee deadline, which takes place on April 12 at midnight.
With the budget targets set and with committees wrapping up their policy work, committees will begin the difficult task of crafting the major appropriation bills that will fund the work of state government in a variety of areas, including education, health and human services, public safety and transportation. In the next two weeks, committees in the House and Senate will start to make decisions on what their priorities are and how they think state tax dollars should be spent.
As funding is determined, the Minnesota Catholic Conference is monitoring several bills, on which Minnesota Catholics have taken action this session. Some of the legislation include four bills focused on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life:
- HF 909/SF 855 – Prenatal care service programs
- HF 1167/SF 1383 – Requiring a study on breastfeeding disparities
- HF 1226/SF 1438 – Home visiting programs for families with young children
- HF 681/SF 340 – Transportation for pregnant and parenting pupils to qualified programs
We’re also monitoring bills that would impact non-public schools and students, including:
- Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (SF 1872)
- SF 580 to provide counseling services funding for K-6 graders in non-public schools
- HF 945 to modify the definition of a textbook which would impact the resources provided by the state to students in both public and private schools
You can find each of these bills and many more by visiting the MCC action center and clicking on bills. Go to www.mncatholic.org/actioncenter.
You can help ensure that Minnesota’s students are able to attend the school that best meets their educational needs. Reach out to your legislators and Gov. Tim Walz and tell them to support the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (SF 1872 / HF 1894). Similar scholarships exist in 20 other states, including Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Opportunity scholarships would help remove financial barriers and allow students to attend the school of their family’s choice. We should empower parents to be able to send their children to a school that best serves their needs.
Visit the MN Catholic Conference Action Center to send a message to your lawmakers.