Deficiency Funding Bill

The Minnesota Security Hospital and the Minnesota Zoo are two recipients of an appropriation through a $15.45 million deficiency bill signed into law. The bill provides sufficient funding to state departments and public assets which have incurred unexpected costs that would have hampered their performance if the state didn’t act by the end of the fiscal year.

The Minnesota Security Hospital (MSH) required an additional $10.4 million to cover costs associated with improving the hospital’s ability to appropriately treat patients and protect staff. Separating the admitting area from the crisis unit cost $600,000. In an attempt to bolster both safety and care, staff are required to receive best practice training for $1.2 million. Perhaps most importantly, almost 60 security counselors have been added, costing the facility $8.2 million. The MSH is the only secure facility in the state equipped to assess and treat persons with severe mental health disorders who are considered a danger to the community.

The Minnesota Zoo has received a $1.35 million appropriation in the 2015 Deficiency bill to maintain operations after declining attendance and unexpected expenses left a hole in their budget. The zoo has made $500,000 in cuts in an attempt to align operating costs with revenue generated. If the emergency funds were not appropriated, the zoo would have experienced operation disruptions, have to close exhibits, and lay off staff. The DNR also received deficiency funding, and $2 million was appropriated for grants to hospitals and the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board for Ebola preparedness expenditures.

Through the process, the deficiency bill became mired in debate when lawmakers used it as a vehicle to change Gov. Dayton’s salary increases for state agency heads. Two years ago, the legislature changed state law so that the governor could pay Commissioners up to 133% of his salary. Previous law capped the limit at 95% for most Commissioners. Under the bill, the governor would be required to seek legislative approval for future agency head pay raises, effective July 2, 2015. Currently, the Commissioner’s salaries are frozen at the 2014 level. However, on July 1, 2015 only—the start of the new fiscal year—the governor may act on the raises without legislative consent.

STATUS: The bill was signed into law. See also: Health and Human Services (S.F 174)

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