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Home / News / Dayton Budget Spending: Education, LGA, courts receive increases; HHS remains essentially flat
The budget released by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration on Tuesday proposes to spend $37.9 billion over the next two years. That figure represents a 6 percent increase over the $35.7 billion deal ultimately reached with a Republican-controlled Legislature following the 2011 state government shutdown.

Dayton Budget Spending: Education, LGA, courts receive increases; HHS remains essentially flat

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt criticized the Dayton budget’s omission of any additional payback of the $1.1 billion in delayed payments to school districts. “This budget punts the shift into the next biennium,” Daudt said. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

The budget released by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration on Tuesday proposes to spend $37.9 billion over the next two years. That figure represents a 6 percent increase over the $35.7 billion deal ultimately reached with a Republican-controlled Legislature following the 2011 state government shutdown. But Dayton was quick to point out that it represented a more modest 2.8 percent increase over projected 2014-15 budget commitments at the time he was elected.

“Some will say we spend too much in this budget, and some will say we don’t spend enough,” Dayton said at a press conference announcing the details of his budget for the 2014-15 biennium. “To those who claim that spending is too high, I challenge you to say exactly where more cuts should be made. And to those who say we need to spend more, I challenge you to say exactly where that money should come from.”
Education was the biggest winner, with more than $500 million in additional spending for higher education and K-12 schools. Aid to cities and counties would also see a significant boost if Dayton ultimately gets his way on the budget. Funding for the fastest growing sector of the budget — health and human services — was essentially flat.

Dayton portrayed his spending proposals as necessary to restore balance after years of reductions to various programs. “We need to put our money where our beliefs are, and where we know we can get results,” he said.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key spending proposals:

K-12 education: The $300 million boost to K-12 education includes $118 million in additional funding for the per-pupil formula. That’s $52 per student, increasing it from $5,224 to $5,276. “I made a commitment to increase state support every year I’m governor,” Dayton said. “No excuses; no exceptions. My  ’14-’15 budget keeps that promise.”

The governor also proposed spending $40 million more in the second year of the biennium to boost participation in all-day kindergarten. That’s expected to increase the percentage of kids attending all-day kindergarten from 49 percent to 85 percent. Dayton also wants to increase funding for special education programs, which focus on poor kids and those with disabilities, by $125 million, or 13 percent. In addition, the governor’s budget includes a $44 million boost for early education programs aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds. Other proposed spending increases: $10 million for teacher evaluation programs, $1 million for bullying prevention, $1 million for emergency preparedness at schools and $9 million to provide immigrant students with two additional years of enrollment in English proficiency programs.

The most notable omission from Dayton’s proposed K-12 education budget is any additional payback of the $1.1 billion in delayed payments to school districts. Instead he pushes that debt back to the following two-year budget cycle. Republicans were quick to seize on that absence. “This budget punts the shift into the next biennium,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt.

Health and human services: At $11.2 billion, spending in the second-largest area of the budget is essentially flat compared to current statute. The biggest changes are related to implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). For instance, Dayton’s budget assumes that the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medical Assistance, will be expanded to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold. That will allow 53,000 individuals currently covered by MinnesotaCare, which is entirely state funded, to enroll in Medical Assistance at no cost to the state.  That’s expected to save $373 million in the next biennium. But other changes spurred by the ACA will cost the state money. The overall effect is essentially a wash in terms of spending.

Nursing homes are lobbying for a 5 percent increase in provider payments and the elderly waiver program, which would cost roughly $60 million. Dayton has proposed an increase of $19 million in provider payments. While all facilities would receive a bump in payments in October, some of the money would be tied to quality-of-care measurements.

Advocates of mental health services were pleased with Dayton’s budget. The governor proposes more than doubling funds for school-linked mental health services — a bump of $7.4 million. “If there was one thing that could be done to dramatically improve the lives of children with mental illnesses, it would be expanding School-Linked Mental Health Services,” said Sue Abderholden, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), in a statement. Dayton also proposes to increase funding for mental health crisis services by $2 million, which would allow the program to expand to 16 additional counties, and to spend $2 million to create a program to help people with psychiatric problems transition out of hospitals.

As anticipated, there are some proposed HHS cuts in Dayton’s budget. For instance, $8 million is saved by increasing the share that counties pay for individuals receiving treatment at the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter and the Anoka Metropolitan Regional Treatment Center.  In addition, $59 million in savings is anticipated through rate reductions in the state’s managed health care programs.

Higher education: The second-biggest bump in spending went toward supporting the state’s public universities and increasing tuition assistance for college students. All told, Dayton wants $240 million in additional spending. Both the University of Minnesota system and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system would see funding increase by $80 million under Dayton’s budget proposal. However, funding for the U of M would be held back pending further clarification about the system’s administrative costs in light of critical recent coverage in The Wall Street Journal. Legislative leaders have asked U of M officials to report back on the issue by March 15.

In addition, the Minnesota State Grant Program, which helps students pay for tuition, would jump by $80 million — a 25 percent increase. Dayton’s stated goal is to lower overall student debt burdens.

Aid to cities and counties: After years of cuts, Dayton is proposing a substantial increase in aid to cities and counties. Local government aid, which has been reduced by about 25 percent in recent years, would see an $80 million a year increase, to a total of $506 million. Dayton also proposes increasing aid to counties by 40 percent, which would bring funding back to the level it was at in 2005. Both increases would kick in at the start of 2014.

Public safety and courts: Dayton proposes a funding increase of $38 million to pay for staffing within the Minnesota Department of Corrections, which oversees the state’s 11 prisons and juvenile detention facilities. In addition, the governor wants to spend another $8 million to replace the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s 20-year-old criminal history database. For the public defender system, Dayton recommends a nearly $9 million increase in spending. That’s roughly half of the 14 percent increase that the Board of Public Defense is seeking.


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