June 22, 2021
Lawmakers returned to St. Paul last week to continue working on the state’s next two-year budget, but the process is off to a slow start with surprisingly few of the omnibus budget bills actually passed off either House or Senate floor. Legislative leaders continue to downplay the risk of a full-blown government shutdown, but the June 30th date to pass the budget is starting to loom larger with each passing day.
There have been signs of progress and a number of budget bills have been agreed to by leadership and committee chairs, but only a handful have actually passed thus far. The Jobs Bill was finally made public this week and is expected to be voted on in the coming days. The bill (language here, spreadsheet here) is a mixed bag but does deliver on EDAM’s top priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session, which was to reestablish base level funding for the Redevelopment Grant Program at DEED.
While we were unsuccessful in getting funding for the upcoming biennium, the bill does establish base funding for Redevelopment starting in 2024 at $2.246 million per year. The bill also continues base funding for the Job Creation Fund at $8 million per year. There is a slight one-time cut to the Minnesota Investment Fund in the upcoming biennium (roughly $2 million per year) but base funding is restored in the out years. The bill also provides for an extension on MIF and JCF grants for those that were unable to meet the requirements of a business subsidy agreement during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency or the 12 months following. The extension is until the end of 2022.
This new base funding for Redevelopment was not included in the Governor’s budget recommendations or in either the House or Senate omnibus bills when they went to conference committee. It took a massive effort from EDAM members and allies to reach out to lawmakers to continue to stress the importance of consistent funding communities can rely on as they plan for redevelopment and expansion.
Legislative leaders continue to try and reach agreement on the health and human services budget, the public safety budget, as well as an agreement on a modest size bonding bill. EDAM will continue to track the progress during special session and update EDAM members as bills work through the process.