Budget bills in brief
ST. PAUL - The Democrat-controlled Legislature planned to approve six budget bills Wednesday, including four replacing earlier bills Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed.
Here is a look at the half-dozen budget bills:
Business and workforce development programs would be funded at $345 million over the next two years. Lawmakers removed $35 million in overall general fund spending from an earlier budget package. The bill:
-- Provides $4.1 million for the Minnesota Investment Fund, a program promoting business expansion Pawlenty insisted be funded after lawmakers initially ignored it.
-- Lowers the 21st Century Mineral Fund allocation from $31.3 million to $14.9 million. The fund targets Iron Range economic development.
-- Still contains part of a packinghouse workers' rights bill, which some believe unfairly targets the meat-packing industry.
-- Retains three citizen members on the Iron Range Resources Board.
Health and human services
An estimated $9.5 billion would be spent on state health care and welfare programs, including $537 million in new spending. Pawlenty complained lawmakers want to spend too much in this area. The bill:
-- Provides 2.75 and 3 percent state aid increases to nursing homes and long-term care facilities over the next two years.
-- Does not include some key Pawlenty health initiatives and makes cuts to others.
-- Funds expansion of state-subsidized health insurance to include 78,000 new enrollees.
The University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems, along with other higher education programs, would be funded at $3.17 billion. The bill eliminates $20 million higher education funding in 2010-11 lawmakers previously approved after Pawlenty complained. The bill also:
-- Includes $12 million for college funding assistance for military veterans, enough for undergraduate and graduate students.
-- Establishes a slimmed-down version of Pawlenty's Achieve college tuition assistance program for high-achieving high school students.
-- Allows children of illegal immigrants to pay resident tuition at some two-year colleges, a controversial measure.
Early childhood programs and K-12 schools would receive $800 million in new funding, bringing total education spending to around $13.8 billion. The public school bill:
-- Includes a 2 percent increase to the basic state aid formula in 2008, but no increase in 2009.
-- Provides $387 million to help schools pay for special education programs.
-- Places a cap on the number of schools participating in Pawlenty's Q-Comp alternative teacher pay program.
-- Sets groundwork for more voluntary all-day kindergarten programs.
A variety of state departments, including the Legislature and governor's office, would be funded at $716 million over two years. The state government funding bill:
-- Increases the Legislature's budget at a rate lawmakers say is necessary, but Pawlenty says is too high.
-- Makes more than $7 million in cuts to high-ranking positions in the Pawlenty administration, which the governor opposes.
Top Democrats removed a proposed income tax increase on the richest Minnesotans from a large package of tax provisions. The tax bill:
-- Increases property tax refunds by $18 million in 2008 and boosts state aid to local governments by $121 million beginning in 2009.
-- Gains $244 million by tightening corporate tax collections, a controversial measure.
-- Includes $1 million for the Grand Marais area, which was damaged by the Ham Lake fire, and $100,000 for flood-damaged Browns Valley.