Received Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:25 pm
House Legacy Bill: This afternoon the House Legacy bill was posted online. I am very disappointed to report that funding for regional public libraries was reduced by one-third in comparison to the current biennium. In the current biennium, regional public libraries received $3 million each year, for a total of $6 million. The House bill proposes $1.5 million in the first year and $2.5 million in the second year, for a total of $4 million. Many previous recipients of Arts and Cultural Heritage funds are also slated for reductions from current funding levels, including the Science Museum (down 45%), Civics Education (down 40%), the Duluth Children’s Museum (down 38%), the Southern Minnesota Children’s Museum (down 38%), the Minnesota Zoo (down 36%), the Perpich Center (down 35%), Minnesota Public Educational Radio Stations (down 14%), Public Television (down 14%), and MPR (down 6%).
So, where did the money go? The recipients who saw reductions were relatively small programs. The largest recipients received substantial increases, namely the Minnesota Historical Society (up 16%) and the State Arts Board (up 7.5%). Disappointingly, the Minnesota Digital Library, which is part of the Historical Society’s appropriation, received a slight cut – from $600,000 in the current biennium to $580,000. There are also some new appropriations, including $1 million for restoration and preservation of fine art in the capitol complex and $250,000 for the Bell Museum. According to committee staff, they received far more in requests than they could possibly fund, and the decisions were difficult. We have been repeatedly warned that no recipient of Legacy funds has a base budget – we all start over each biennium. This bill seems designed to drive that point home.
Please contact your own state representative and members of the House Legacy Committee between now and Monday to express your concern about the low level of funding provided for regional public libraries. Members of the Legacy Committee can be found at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/comm/committeemembers.asp?comm=89017 Please keep your messages respectful.
The House Legacy bill will be heard on Monday at 12:45pm in the Basement Hearing Room. The committee plans to meet for as long as necessary (up to midnight) to walk through the bill, take testimony and consider amendments before passing the bill.
Senate Legacy Hearing: On Monday evening the Senate Legacy Subcommittee heard presentations from groups seeking funding from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Ann Hutton and Melinda Ludwiczak made the presentation and did a great job. Special thanks to the gang from East Central Regional Library for bringing a large glass blown parrot made by a local artist from a local child’s drawing to display to the committee. They seemed to enjoy it very much. Valerie Horton also testified on behalf of the Minnesota Digital Library.
At the hearing Senator Cohen announced that $3.5 million would have to be allocated from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund for restoration and preservation of art at the capitol. He warned that this would make funding increases unlikely for most recipients of Arts and Cultural Heritage Funds.
House Omnibus Education Bill: Today the House Education Finance Committee passed its omnibus bill out of committee. Before passage the committee considered about a dozen amendments. Rep. Kresha successfully offered an amendment with the RLTA language that had been proposed in the Governor’s supplemental budget bill. We had negotiated a couple of changes to the language with MDE, and I had testified last night that we were supporting the amendment. It went onto the bill today without a hitch. Also notable is that the provision requiring a regional public library board to employ a chief administrative officer who is compensated by no more than one regional library was removed from the omnibus bill after I let Rep. Erickson know that MLA opposed the provision. The omnibus education bill will be heard next week in the House Tax Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Senate Omnibus Education Bill: Today the Senate E-12 Budget Division passed its omnibus bill out of committee. The RLTA language was also amended onto this bill this morning. Other provisions of interest in this bill are as follows:
- RLBSS: Modifies the formula and increases funding by $2.85 million over the biennium
- Telecommunications Equity Aid: Increases funding by $3 million ($1.5 million per year) for the 16-17 biennium only
- School Technology: Requires school districts to reserve future growth in the proceeds from the school endowment fund for school technology and telecommunications infrastructure, programs and training
- 1:1 Device Program: Requires MDE to research existing 1:1 device programs and develop guidelines for best practices for Minnesota schools implementing 1:1 device programs
Broadband Grants: The Senate omnibus environment, economic development and agriculture bill was released today. It includes $17 million for broadband grants. The House employment and economic development bill provides no funding for broadband. The Governor’s budget includes $30 million.
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