MN Legislative Update 2015-04-30

The following information was shared via email with the library community by Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates, in her role as MLA-ITEM lobbyist.

Legacy Bill: This afternoon the House passed its omnibus Legacy bill, HF 303, on the floor by a vote of 97-31 . No amendments were proposed to the Arts and Cultural Heritage article of the bill. When Rep. Dean Urdahl described the bill at the beginning of the debate he once again emphasized that there were no cuts in the bill because there is no such thing in Legacy. The Senate Legacy bill is expected to be released next week.

Omnibus Education Finance and Policy Bills: Yesterday the Senate passed its omnibus education finance bill and its omnibus education policy bill on the floor. Last Saturday the House passed its omnibus education finance and policy bill (finance and policy are combined in a single bill).

The House appointed its conferees this afternoon. They are Rep. Jenifer Loon (R – Eden Prairie), Rep. Sondra Erickson (R – Princeton), Rep. Ron Kresha (R – Little Falls), Rep. Bob Dettmer (R- Forest Lake) and Rep. Roz Peterson (R – Lakeville). Senate conferees are expected to be named tomorrow. I will send out an alert with contact information for the conferees once they have all been named.

Here is a rundown of the key issues for libraries in these bills:

Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS): The Senate provides an increase of $1.5 million per year. Because of the 90%/10% payment schedule, the actual amount of the increase will be $1.35 million in FY 16 and $1.5 million in FY 17 and beyond. The Senate also changes the RLBSS formula by reducing the ANTC portion from 25% to 17% and by increasing the base amount from 5% to 13%. The funding increase ensures that every regional library system receives an increase under the new formula. The House has no increase and no formula change.

Regional Library Telecommunications Aid (RLTA): Both the House and Senate bills include nearly identical language to more closely align RLTA with the federal e-rate program.

Telecommunications Equity Aid (TEA): The Senate increases funding for TEA by $1.5 million per year for the 16-17 biennium only. The House provides no increase.

School Technology: The Senate requires school districts to reserve future increases in revenue from the School Endowment Fund for technology and telecommunications infrastructure, programs and training.

After School: The Senate provides $500,000 per year in the 16-17 biennium only for after school programs. The House provides no funding.

Omnibus Tax Bills: The House passed its omnibus tax bill on the floor yesterday. The provisions I reported on in my April 22 update remained unchanged. The Senate released its omnibus tax bill on Monday and passed it out of committee yesterday. It will be brought up on the Senate floor on Monday. Here are the provisions in the bill of interest to libraries:

Local Government Aid is increased by $21.5 million in FY 17 (payable in calendar year 2016) and by $45.6 million per year in FY 2018 and beyond. LGA will be paid to cities in four installments rather than in two. The new payments dates are March 15, July 15, September 15 and November 15.

County Program Aid is increased by $25 million in FY 17 (payable in calendar year 2016) and by $29.7 million per year in FY 2018 and beyond.

Elaine Keefe, Capitol Hill Associates

Unanimous Vote at VLS

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe Viking Library System (VLS) board voted unanimously on May 20 to support changes to the Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) aid formula.  The formula change will offer a degree of stability to a funding stream fraught with volatility as property values vacillate county-to-county.  The proposal would adjust the portion of funds assigned to Subdivision 6, Adjusted net tax capacity per capita distribution, and shift a small percentage to Base aid distribution as prescribed in Subdivision 5.

Minnesota Statutes 134.355

Proposal to amend current statutory language

VLS is the ninth regional library board to review the RLBSS formula and endorse future legislative action.

TdSLC Supports RLBSS Change

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative (TdSLC) board agrees with the proposed changes for calculating the Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) appropriation.  TdSLC becomes the seventh region to discuss and approve this legislative initiative for the 2015 session.

Proposal to amend current statutory language

CRPLSA hopes for unanimous support from all 12 regions.  This will allow the Minnesota Library Association Legislative Committee to begin planning advocacy strategies at the upcoming Legislative Forum on July 8.

ECRL Endorses RLBSS Change

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe East Central Regional Library (ECRL) approved going ahead to revise the Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) formula on May 12.  The proposed change to the statutory funding formula will shift funds from the equalization factor to the base and serve to stabilize calculations that have swung radically in recent years.

Proposal to amend current statutory language

The ECRL board action brings the number of regions supporting this 2015 legislative initiative to 6 of 12.  The call for support will continue to be up for discussion in other regions in the coming months.

LARL Endorses RLBSS Initiative

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL) Board will support a 2015 legislative proposal to modify the Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) formula as outlined in Minnesota Statutes 134.355. The proposal would adjust the portion of funds assigned to Subdivision 6, Adjusted net tax capacity per capita distribution, and shift a small percentage to Base aid distribution outline in Subdivision 5.

Minnesota Statutes 134.355

Proposal to amend current statutory language

PCLS Endorses RLBSS Change

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe Plum Creek Library System (PCLS) Board has approved the concepts identified in the proposal to amend current RLBSS statutory language and will support a 2015 legislative initiative.

The adjusted formula will reduce funding volatility and make budgeting more stable. Should the Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) appropriation increase by $1.2 million per year above the current $13.5 million amount, the equalization portion of the formula would be reduced from 25% to 17.5%. If the proposed funding increase is $2 million or greater, then the equalization factors will be adjusted from 25% to 15%. In each case, whether equalization is at 17.5% or 15%, the funds previous assigned to the equalization category will shift to the base to cover basic operational expenses.

PLS and SELCO Endorse RLBSS Legislative Initiative

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe SELCO/SELS Board of Directors (SELCO) and Pionnerland Library System (PLS) Board voted unanimously to support a change to the Regional Library Basic System (RLBSS) formula during the 2015 legislative session.   These two regional governing boards join the Arrowhead Library System (ALS)  in endorsing this legislative initiative. During the coming months, each of the other regional library boards will be asked to support the proposal to amend current statutory language.

Minnesota supports regional library service around the state through an appropriation of RLBSS aid administered by the Department of Education. Members of the library community reviewed the current formula and support different percentages while retaining the same calculating factors: base, population, area, and equalization.

The adjusted formula will reduce funding volatility and make budgeting more stable. Should the RLBSS appropriation increase by $1.2 million per year above the current $13.5 million amount, the equalization portion of the formula would be reduced from 25% to 17.5%. If the proposed funding increase is $2 million or greater, then the equalization factors will be reduced from 25% to 15%. In each case, whether equalization is at 17.5% or 15%, the funds previous assigned to that category will shift to the base to cover basic operational expenses.

If approved the new formula would become effective in 2016.

Background information on the proposed RLBSS change.

ALS Endorses Proposed RLBSS Formula Change

Hand writing formula on blackboardThe Board of Arrowhead Library System (ALS) voted unanimously to support a change to the Regional Library Basic System (RLBSS) formula during the 2015 legislative session.  It is the first regional board to do so.  During the coming months, each of the other 11 regional library boards will be asked to support the proposal to amend current statutory language.

Minnesota supports regional library service around the state through an appropriation of RLBSS aid administered by the Department of Education.  Members of the library community reviewed the current formula and support different percentages while retaining the same calculating factors: base, population, area, and equalization.  The adjusted formula is intended to reduce funding volatility.  If approved the new formula would become effective in 2016.

Background information on the proposed RLBSS change.

Proposed Changes to RLBSS Under Consideration

A representative group of CRPLSA and MELSA directors investigated alternative factors for the Regional Library Basic System Support (RLBSS) formula that would reduce funding volatility. Mark Ranum, 2013 CRPLSA Chair and Nick Dimassis, 2013 MELSA Chair appointed this Ad Hoc Funding Committee. Gathering in November and continuing to work during the early months of 2014, the Ad Hoc Funding Committee proposed changes to the RLBSS formula that could be introduced in the 2015 Legislative Session. The Committee included:

  • Jim Weikum, Arrowhead Library System
  • Liz Lynch, Lake Agassiz Regional Library
  • Peg Werner, Viking Library System
  • Ken Behringer, Dakota County Library
  • Marlene Moulton Janssen, Anoka County Library
  • Lois Langer Thompson, Hennepin County Library

The proposal requests an additional $1.2 million per year in RLBSS funds; reduces the Equalization Factor from 25% to 17.5% and increases the Basic System Services factor from 5% to 12.5%. These changes are intended to lessen radical funding shifts and add dollars to the Basic System Services. On January 30, 2014, CRPLSA voted unanimously in favor of the recommendation.

At that time, CRPLSA also proposed an alternate formula if the 2015 Legislature should prove amenable to a larger funding request. If the additional RLBSS funding exceeds $2 million per year, both the Equalization and the Basic System Services factors would be calculated equally at 15%.

Using the 2014 State Demographer’s population estimates and adjusted net tax capacity (ANTC), as supplied by State Library Services, members of the Ad Hoc Committee created charts demonstrating these numerical shifts. During the spring and summer of 2014, each of the 12 regional library boards will review this data with a goal of statewide endorsement. These same charts will also be presented at the Library Legislative Forum in July in preparation for the 2015 session.

Since the population and equalization factors change annually, the financial charts will be re-calculated in August 2014 to advocate with the 2015 Legislature. If the RLBSS formula change and funding increase legislative initiative is successful, the State Library will re-calculate the formula in August 2015 for the FY2016 RLBSS funding year. Note – Great care will be taken to hold all 12 systems harmless with a new formula however, the final distribution will be calculated after the bill is passed and cannot be completely guaranteed.