Minnesota quick to prepare for infusion of federal funds

I have to say, I’m impressed by how quickly the Pawlenty administration and the state legislature are acting to prepare to receive the federal funds.  As a result, there are now several useful resources floating around, so I thought I’d gather them in one place.

Governor Pawlenty has selected commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget Tom Hanson to oversee the process of maximizing the amount Minnesota draws down. The administration has also assigned staff within each agency to act as “Federal Stimulus Coordinators.” A contact list is available. Hanson is meeting weekly with a sub-group representing the major agencies (Administration, Commerce, DEED, Education, Housing Finance, Human Services and Transportation). If you have questions about a particular portion of the stimulus bill, start with one of the contacts on this list.

Wondering about the timeline? The federal Office of Management and Budget has issued some next steps in the process, and so has Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB). These documents aren’t overly detailed, but at least the Minnesota one does lay out a rough plan for the next three months.

How much will Minnesota be getting to help out with our deficit? Ah, the $3 billion question. Or is it $4 billion? (You may have heard $7 billion, but numbers in that range are including funds going directly to individuals – like tax credits and unemployment benefits.) The estimates are changing daily as people work out the details of the bill language. However, here are a few reliable sources that can give you a ballpark estimate:

  • You can look at a detailed spreadsheet prepared by the Federal Funds Information for States (FFIS) which includes information for every state.
  • If you just want a summary, Minnesota Management and Budget has pulled out the Minnesota numbers (you want to look at the “ARRA” column).
  • And if you want to understand the bill language behind these numbers, the National Governor’s Association has issued a very comprehensive bill summary as has CQ (a publication of Congressional Quarterly).

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to the federal bill. And one very important question is whether the federal government will require the state to count our education payment shifts in the maintenance of effort calculations. Long story short, if we do, the Governor will have to drop his proposal to shift state aid payments to school districts – that’s a $1.2 billion hole in his budget balancing plan.

We’ll keep you up to date as we learn more.

-Christina Wessel

About Christina Wessel

Christina served as the Minnesota Budget Project's deputy director until January 2014.
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