Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Afternoon's (and Maybe Night's) All Right for Fighting. Nobody even remotely resembling Elton John is hanging around the Capitol today. I know that because I am here.

Both houses of the Legislature are clearing bills and conference committee reports off the docket and negotiations continue between the Legislature and the Governor in an effort to create a budget resolution package that has a bit (insert sarcam emoticon here) more clarity than simply surrendering to the unallotment process that would provide the Governor with wide discretion in matching available revenue to areas of expense.

As I touched on yesterday, unallotment is an extremely risky strategy for both sides. The Governor may initially get a popularity bump for looking like the responsible party. If the process can be made responsible and the Governor makes an honest effort to accept input, he may be able to maintain that popularity bump. But his popularity may well fall when people see what that responsibility means when the decisions are made. If the results of the Governor's decisions are unpopular, the Legislature gets a big advantage as they can depict the Governor as being heavy-handed during the negotiations in the regular session and intent on making decisions without accepting input.

At any rate, it's a process best avoided and we'll see if an agreement can be reached in the next 48 hours.

Update on Teacher Health Insurance Bill. SF 915 was returned to the Senate this morning and the Senate chose not to concur with the amendments placed on the bill in the House. As I reported last evening, Representative Kathy Brynaert (DFL-Mankato) placed an amendment on the bill that would allow districts where the board and teachers union agreed not to participate in the statewide pool to opt out of it. Education Minnesota opposes this amendment and would like to have it removed from the bill. That will be the goal of the Senate conferees if a conference committee is convened. There is talk that a conference committee will not be convened as given all the attention being paid to budget issues, it may stand a better chance of being approved if it lands on the Governor's desk first thing next year instead of the waning days of the 2009 session.

So, that's where we're at.

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