Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Omnibus finance bill proposed

Published (4/10/2009)
By Mike Cook
Share on: 

An omnibus public safety finance bill that its sponsor said was “not easy” to put together received division approval.

However, Rep. Michael Paymar (DFL-St. Paul) told the House Public Safety Finance Division that HF1657 is better than it could have been.

“We were originally asked to cut $66 million; we ended up with a $52 million target to cut,” he said. “We tried to prioritize, we tried to be creative, and we demanded efficiencies through reform.”

The bill includes funding for state courts and the Departments of Corrections, Human Rights and Public Safety. It was approved on a split-voice vote April 7 and sent to the House Finance Committee. It has no Senate companion.

Paymar noted that the $2.01 billion bill — $1.78 billion from the General Fund — is better than the budget proposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a number of areas. For example, the bill calls for a 0.79 percent courts reduction; the governor wants a 2.46 percent cut. It also calls for a 3.1 percent cut to the Department of Human Rights, whereas the governor sought almost 10 percent.

However, while Pawlenty seeks a 2.12 percent increase for the Corrections Department, the bill calls for a 0.55 percent decrease.

“It will be almost impossible for the facilities to maintain the safety of the staff by these kind of cuts,” said Lynn Dingle, deputy commissioner for the department’s Facility Services Division.

Countered Paymar: “We’re asking them to make less than a 1 percent cut in a billion-dollar bureaucracy.” The bill directs the department to reduce its daily adult facility per diem cost of $89.77 by 1 percent.

However, the department could get more inmates because the bill calls for the elimination of the short-term offender program that allows offenders with less than six months remaining on their sentence to serve that time in a local jail. This would take effect with those sentenced on or after July 1, 2009. Pawlenty included this in his budget proposal. Local officials said state reimbursement is far short of actual costs.

In addition to a $1 surcharge increase for traffic offenses, the bill contains a dozen court filing fee increases, including a $60 increase in the initial filing fee for a marriage dissolution and a $7 increase to deposit a will. Nearly $30 million in revenue is expected to be raised.

“I understand why you did it, and I appreciate the result of that. I think there might be some better ways to juggle the money and help the courts without raising fees,” said Rep. Paul Kohls (R-Victoria).

Other provisions in the bill include:

• a $50 increase to registration fees on all licensed attorneys, with proceeds to help fund public defenders;

• a public defender co-pay increase from $28 to $75;

• the interest rate on a court judgment over $50,000 would increase from “simple interest per annum” to 10 percent per year;

• a two-year extension of the nonviolent drug offender conditional release program; and

• the Public Safety Department is to reduce its car fleet by 20 percent in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area; the Corrections Department is to reduce its entire fleet by 20 percent.

Session Weekly More...

Session Weekly Home

Related Stories

Turn your key and breathe
House approves ignition interlock bill that would let DWI offenders drive sooner
(view full story) Published 4/29/2010

Minnesota Index: Crime and punishment
Figures and statistics on crime in Minnesota.
(view full story) Published 3/18/2010

Red River Basin: ‘Here we go again’
Flood-prone communities look to keep their heads above water
(view full story) Published 3/4/2010

At Issue: Courts and corrections backing
Public safety finance bill awaits gubernatorial action
(view full story) Published 5/15/2009

At Issue: Corrections, courts funding concerns
Omnibus public safety finance bill gets mixed reaction from House
(view full story) Published 5/1/2009

At Issue: Sex offenders, courts and corrections
Omnibus public safety policy bill headed to conference committee
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009

At Issue: Helping to find missing adults
House vote expected soon on ‘Brandon’s Law’
(view full story) Published 4/17/2009

Minnesota Index: Keeping Minnesotans safe
Figures and statistics on the state patrol and fire marshals in Minnesota
(view full story) Published 3/20/2009

Minnesota Index: See you in court
Figures and statistics on Minnesota's court system
(view full story) Published 2/27/2009

Minnesota Index: 'The Graybar Hotel'
Figures and statistics on Minnesota's prison population
(view full story) Published 1/16/2009