Legislative Update 2/27/2017

This afternoon the Senate E-12 Budget Division chaired by Sen. Carla Nelson (GOP Rochester) reviewed our proposal to amend and increase the RLBSS formula and to increase funding for the multi-county, multi-type library systems.

Many thanks to Ken Behringer, Liz Lynch and Ann Walker Smalley for testifying on behalf of the bill. And many thanks to Sen. Gary Dahms (GOP Redwood Falls) for chief authoring the bill!

Overall the hearing was productive, but there was some frustration by members over the lack of time for questions about the variety of library services provided by the various regions. Overdrive was specifically asked about by Sen. Tomassoni (DFL Chisholm).

Chair Nelson essentially asked our panel about what level of funding is required to hold all the systems harmless if a formula change is made. The panel didn’t reply with a specific figure, but following the hearing Ken and I clarified that the MELSA board approved a resolution to amend the formula with at least $2 million in new funding for RLBSS. Chair Nelson clearly appreciated this information.

Tomorrow morning the state will release the February budget forecast and hopefully the budget news is positive. We can expect House and Senate budget plans to emerge in the next few weeks.