- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Existing emergency accounts are probably sufficient to cover state costs related to severe June flooding and avoid the need for a special session of the Minnesota Legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday.

That message was delivered to leading lawmakers in a memo from budget chief Jim Schowalter and emergency management head Kris Eide. They provided a financial assessment that shows there is enough money in a new $3 million contingency fund to match anticipated federal disaster assistance.

Combined with some transportation funds the state can tap, Dayton said there’s likely enough money to cover repair costs from summer flooding until lawmakers return to the Capitol in January, making a special session unlikely.

“It’s our judgment that it’s not necessary at this time,” Dayton said, before adding that he could change course and call a special session later on if cost estimates mount beyond what the state can currently pay.

Damage to public assets from summer storms topped $40 million. Thirty-seven Minnesota counties are part of a federal disaster declaration and two others - Morrison and Dakota - will likely qualify for state assistance despite being excluded from the federal program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency covers 75 percent of recovery costs and the state matches the remaining 25 percent. The memo said the state’s contingency account is likely enough to keep aid flowing between now and January. In addition, the state allows local governments to seek an advance of their regular state aid payments to help them through the recovery.

The memo cautions that administration officials lack the ability to transfer money from other state accounts without legislative consent. The state’s emergency management department “will further monitor situations where state aid might be needed more quickly and will bring that information forward as it occurs.”

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