Monday, January 26, 2009

Budget Day Tomorrow. Tomorrow the abstract becomes concrete as Governor will release his budget. As has been amply reported, the state is approximately $5 billion behind where it needs to be if it wants to maintain spending at the $37 billion current law amount. The Governor has stated that he only plans on calling for spending of $32 billion so as to avoid proposing any state tax increases.

Tomorrow, the rhetorical fog lifts and we all see the first iteration of the state budget for the next biennium as it rolls out in a series of specific budget proposals that will undoubtedly be sparse (at least by most definitions) and controversial. Legislative reaction to the Governor's statements leading up to the release of the budget have been surprisingly muted. Everyone--both in the Administration and the Legislature--has been uttering the word "bipartisan" with an amazing amount of regularity. How long bipartisanship remains the zeitgeist of the session is anyone's guess at this juncture, but I don't expect legislative reaction to the Governor's proposed budget to be incendiary right out of the gate.

The excitement surrounding the release of the budget is almost enough to inspire poetry. Something like,

'Twas the night 'fore the budget
And all through the state,
Government programs
Awaited their fate.

Lobbyists lurked
In their usual style
With interested legislators
All on speed dial.

I was on my computer
While answering my phone
When I was distracted
By a blood curdling groan.

And what to my wondering eyes
Should I see, it's hizzoner
Governor Pawlenty and
His slate of commissioners

"On Seagren! On Campion!
On Hanson!" And more.
He shouted quite loudly
As he came through the door.

Armed with computer runs
And some Powerpoint slides
The Governor hit the podium
With a spring in his strides.

"Listen," he started,
Then eloquently did wax
"We'll balance this budget
Without raising a tax!"

Now the Speaker retorted,
"This could be a killer."
And she then turned to
Senator Pogemiller.

And this is the end
Of the tale to this point.
The poet would continue,
But fears he'd disappoint.

He could easily ramble
Further on with this ditty,
But he's run out of rhymes
And his meter's quite. . .uh, sugary.

But you needn't worry.
He'll finish this digression.
Sometime in November
During the third special session.

Apologies to Clement Clark Moore and all of the powerful people upon whom my livelihood rests featured in this poem.

Interesting Hearing Today. The House K-12 Budget Division and the House Tax Committee held a joint hearing today to discuss the property tax ramifications of the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPED) bonding legislation passed during the 2008 legislative session. The total levy increase resulting from the passage of this provision is approximately $24 million, about twice of what was estimated during the 2008 session. 33 districts have utilized this bonding provision.

It's not that this provision hasn't been helpful to a large number of districts or that it is wrong-headed, but there are real questions of equity, exacerbated by the fact that this, again, is another unequalized levy. In other words, there are districts that don't offer these benefits (an equity issue for staff in those districts) and differential levels of property wealth in these districts. In other words, unlike multiplication, where two negatives make a positive, this is addition, where two negative numbers put together result in a larger negative.

There probably won't be many changes to this language this year, but this will be provision to watch in the future, especially if it grows significantly.

Bill Introductions. Here are the bill introductions from Thursday, January 22.


SF 153--Vandeveer--Repeal 2008 Green Acres Changes:

SF 172--Lynch--Removes staff development distribution restrictions:

SF 205--Sparks--Removes wind energy production tax from county apportionment:


No comments: