ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota’s Legislature descended Monday into the usual end-of-session flurry of finalizing and passing bills.
Here are some changes on the table as legislators race to pass a budget before Monday night’s deadline to adjourn.
— Overall, maintains the state’s health care program for the working poor, though smaller cuts to MinnesotaCare will likely increase premiums and co-payments for roughly 90,000 enrollees.
— Leaves MNsure largely untouched after a failed Democrat-led attempt to abolish MNsure’s governing board and make the exchange a full-blown state agency.
— Boosts funding for rural nursing homes under a reworked formula meant to address years of underfunding in greater Minnesota.
— Aims to save $25 million by weeding out waste and fraud from Minnesota’s public programs.
— Provides for a 1.5 percent increase in per-student funding in 2016 and 2 percent in 2017, a combined average just shy of $200 per pupil overall.
— Puts $30 million into early childhood education scholarships for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
— Allots another $30 million for school readiness grants.
— Gives districts with four-day school weeks the ability to continue that schedule for now.
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
— Sets up likely tuition increases at University of Minnesota schools and four-year schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.
— Provides for tuition cuts at two-year colleges.
— Bumps up state grant program for low-income students.
ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURE
— Requires farmers to install up to 50-foot buffers between crops and public lakes, with smaller setbacks along ditches.
— Opens up a low-interest loan program to farmers affected by bird flu to replenish their flocks and pays for the state’s response to the outbreak.
— Launches a study at the University of Minnesota of the causes of bird flu and how to prevent its spread.
— State’s courts and public safety programs budget legalizes gun silencers. Left out is a provision to restore voting rights to felons once they’re released from prison — and not once their parole is complete, as in current law.
— Starts making payments on a new office building for senators expected to open next year.
— Shifts audit powers away from state auditor, allowing counties to hire private accounting firms.
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