Monday, May 16, 2011

Some Movement. 170 hours from now, the 2011 Legislative Session will be over. As mandated by the Minnesota Constitution, a mere tick past 11:59:59 PM next Monday night and the Legislature will have to adjourn. At this juncture, it appears that it will be difficult to avoid a special session. While the Legislature has completed the conference committee proceedings on its budget bills, all but one of those bills has not been approved by the full Legislature. Further, these budget bills are not in the form that the Governor wishes to see them, either in form or in the manner he wants them presented to him. From the beginning, the Governor has demanded that the Legislature provide him with the omnibus tax and budget bills as a set so that revenue and expenditures could be balanced in a "macro" sense before individual budget items were addressed. The Legislature has chosen not to do that and does not appear to be interested in accommodating the Governor's request.

The Governor took a step toward reconciliation today, offering to cut his tax increase pretty much in half (to $1.8 billion) and scale back his budget requests by an equal amount. The Legislature still appears wedded to the axiom that taxes will not be increased this session, even in the face of a Minnesota poll that showed Minnesotans wanting a mixed approach to solving the state budget shortfall, including an income tax increase on Minnesotans with higher incomes.

Below is a link to the letter the Governor sent to legislative leadership outlining his new proposal. It is interesting that the Governor proposes to increase the general education basic formula by $50/PU in each of the next two years as part of his budget, which necessitates larger cuts in other programs.

Policy Bill in Hibernation. That's not to say it's dead. It's just sleeping and it's going to have to wake up pretty quickly to make it out the door. The House passed the K-12 Education Policy Bill last week after a fairly long floor debate and it now sits in the Senate waiting for action. As I reported last week, there are several measures in the policy bill that would likely cause the Governor to veto the entire bill and with the bill not even to conference committee yet, it may be difficult to put together a bill that would earn enough legislative votes without also triggering a gubernatorial veto. As in the case of last year's K-12 Education Policy Bill, the world won't come to screeching halt as a result of the failure to pass the bill, but there are a number of very helpful technical provisions in the bill that would be nice to see made into law.

As always, I will keep you posted.

No comments: