Friday, January 28, 2011

Week Four is in the Books. Things are picking up a bit at the Legislature and the first showdown is looming. The House of Representatives passed HF 130 late yesterday afternoon by a vote of 68-63. HF 130 is the bill that formalizes the one-time reductions made at the end of last session to balance the state budget. The debate on the bill didn't go as long as many anticipated. There were no floor amendments offered and the debate was very concise.

HF 130 now moves to the Senate, where its companion--SF 60--is currently on the Senate floor. HF 130 will be substituted on Monday and it's my guess that the bill will pass at that time. It will then proceed to the Governor where it will be greeted by a veto.

There appears to be a couple of different reasons for a likely (make that near certain) veto. While I assume the Governor objects to a number of elements (DFLers in the Legislature argue that property taxes will rise and critical services, both state and local, will suffer) in the SF 60/HF 130, another angle on this is that the Governor has stated he wants the budget shortfall issue solved in one set of measures passed within a tight window of time. The House and Senate seem to be subscribing to a phased approach that would send various budget-balancing measures to the Governor one at a time and over a much wider time frame.

It's important to remember that process can often have as many political angles as policy and if this is at all frustrating to voters of either party, it's important to remember that this doesn't reach the level of inane discussion of that surrounded the decision of what shape the table should have been at the Paris Peace Talks as the Vietnam War wound down. The dance will continue and I am optimistic that an agreement (perhaps not a happy agreement) will be reached by the end of the session or in a special session. The issues the state is facing are major and there may be some paradigmatic changes in how government services are paid for and delivered as a result of our budget crisis. So, a healthy dose of patience is in order.

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