May 11 - 2018

So last week I said didn't expect to see any major movement on the budget or tax bills by today ... I was half right. The Tax Conference Committee released a proposed spreadsheet today, but there has been little movement from the Supplemental Budget Conference Committee. The Senate released their bonding bill this week (as predicted), and much like the House bill, it is almost half of what the Governor has proposed (again, as predicted). Many legislators headed west today for the Governor's Fishing opener; this year in  Spicer, MN. Reports indicate that Sen. Gary Dahms hosted a great kick-off event at his house, including everything except good weather.   

Tax Bill
The Tax Conference Committee began meeting this week and, for what can typically be a slow moving conference committee, they have been rather efficient and productive during these sessions so far. On Thursday, they adopted a number of "same and similar" provisions and this morning they adopted over 50 sections that did not pertain to money. Late today they released a spreadsheet of their proposed spending provisions,  including how they want to deal with federal conformity.  While there are likely still differences between the legislature and the governor, this was a clear signal of a path to agreement - even if only on taxes. 

The Supplemental Budget Conference Committee began work this week as well and even in the largest hearing room at the Capitol, "viewer" space was limited; not really surprising, considering that this bill contains funding and policy implications for virtually all state agencies, in some capacity. That said, given the differences between the Senate and House spending proposals (yes, still) and MAJOR differences with the Governor (per usual), not to mention the policy provisions, many are wondering what - if anything - will be agreed upon by the end of session, a week from Monday. While they did walk through various sections this week, no sections  have been adopted and, given the Governor's Fishing Opener and Mother's Day both happening this weekend, significant movement is not expected until early next week, if at all.

Budget Spreadsheet (Warning small print ahead)

The Senate released their bonding proposal on Wednesday this week and it was passed out of committee on Thursday. The House bill is scheduled to be taken up on the floor Monday but it is not yet clear if it will have the required 82 votes needed to pass off the floor.  Both the House and Senate bills spend a similar amount, $825 million, though in different ways. The Governor's bill proposes $1.5 billion in projects; mostly focused on maintenance of existing state-owned facilities. The Governor's commissioners strongly weighed in with their concerns about lack of adequate funding for these facilities and urged both Senate and House conferees to significantly increase their spending.

The House is also considering a new idea to borrow $100 million from another pot of money and use it for environmental bonding projects. The concept is unique and many are wondering how or if it should happen.

Other Noteworthy Bills

What's Next?

We are down to the final week of session with virtually everything left yet to be finalized.  In order to accomplish everything on time, it will require a willingness to compromise, setting aside some priority items, and late nights with lots of work for staff. 

The items still in need of resolution are:
*Tax Conformity
*Supplemental Budget
*Addressing Opioid Crisis
*Sexual Harassment Changes
*School Safety
*Elder Care Abuse

The tone early next week will be a major signal of what, if anything, will find agreement. If it gets too late in the week with little movement it could be a signal that some of these items will be left for the next legislature to address.  

Today was the 160th anniversary of Minnesota becoming a state. This is the only day that they light the chandelier at the top of the dome inside the capitol. (see picture on right)

Thank you for reading,

Cap O'Rourke

Cap O'Rourke
Lobbyist / President
O'Rourke Strategic Consulting

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | |
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