The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as MLA-ITEM lobbyist.
Today Governor Dayton released his proposed budget for the FY 16-17 biennium. There are no changes in funding for any library programs. All remain at current funding levels. The Governor is proposing to increase the general education formula by 1% in each year of the biennium, for a total cost of $174.4 million. The general education formula is the primary source of funding for school library media programs. The Governor’s budget also includes $30 million for grants to expand broadband access.
Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA) and Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA)
Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-N. St. Paul), chair of the Senate E-12 Budget Division, introduced SF 78, a bill increasing funding for TEA to $9.75 million per year. This is the amount requested on the MLA/ITEM platform. I asked Senator Wiger to amend the bill to include the increase for RLTA to $3.3 million per year as requested on our platform, and he has agreed to do so. The bill was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, January 20. Mary Mehsikomer and I were slated to testify, but the committee ran out of time. The bill will be brought back at a future hearing. In the House, Rep. Ron Kresha (R – Little Falls), vice-chair of the House Education Finance Committee, has agreed to introduce a bill to increase funding for both TEA and RLTA.
Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) and Multi-type Funding
Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL – Grand Rapids) has agreed to introduce a bill to increase RLBSS to $18.57 million per year and Multitype funding to $2.6 million per year. These are the amounts requested on the MLA/ITEM platform. I hope to have chief author in the House lined up this week.
House Legacy Hearing
On Monday the House Legacy Committee held its first hearing of the session. Rep. Dean Urdahl (R- Grove City), chair of the committee, announced that they would follow the same process as in the past, meaning that it is not necessary to have a bill introduced to request Legacy funds. The Minnesota Historical Society presented its request at this hearing, and Valerie Horton gave excellent testimony about the Minnesota Digital Library, which is funded through the Historical Society’s Legacy appropriation.
Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates