Sunday, April 30, 2017

Let the Games Begin!  Well, hardly games, but let's say gamesmanship.  The Legislature announced its budget targets on Friday and they are vastly different in terms of amounts and priorities than what the Governor proposed.  The big sticking point will be the amount of revenue the Legislature has earmarked for tax cuts, which is their top priority with a price tag of $1.15 billion.  The E-12 budget target comes in at $1.14 billion, but remember that includes the $884 million that is part of the biennium-to-biennium base increases which are automatic and stem from pupil growth, an increase in the special education base due to the inflator in the formula, and the full phase-in of the Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue Program.  From this calculation, it would appear that the "above base" budget target for the E-12 conference committee is $256 million, which is closer to the House target than the Senate's.  What this will mean in actual program changes is anyone's guess, but one cannot get to the 1.5% increase in each year of the coming biennium proposed in the Senate bill with this target without greatly reducing revenue from some other program.

The E-12 conference committee will be meeting tomorrow (Monday) at 3 PM and I would guess that the conference committee will conclude its work in the next day or so.  It is hoped that all of the budget and tax bills will reach the Governor by the end of the week for their likely veto.  If that is indeed the course of events, negotiations with the Governor will begin in earnest by the end of the week and if there is a stare-down, we may be at this beyond the May 22 constitutionally-mandated adjournment date for the regular session.

Here is a story from the House information web site regarding the legislative budget targets.  The article contains links to the press conferences by the majority and minority caucuses:

House, Senate agree to budget targets — now seek common ground with governor

Here is an MPR story that outlines the Governor's concerns over the size of the tax cut:

Politics Friday: Dayton says GOP plan cuts too much in taxes

The conference committee on the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board will begin its proceedings tomorrow (Monday) morning.  There is not a great deal of difference in the versions of the bill and that conference committee may wrap up its work with great dispatch.  One of the reasons (and this is conjecture, but a lot is conjecture at this point so I'm just joining the party) this bill is having a separate conference committee instead of being folded into the E-12 conference committee is that if there is a break down in the budget negotiations, this bill will still be able to pass and (hopefully) become law.

So, in the spirit of the upcoming chain of events, here's some inspiring music for some Olympic-sized negotiations.

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