February 22 - 2019

Every time a Governor's budget is released a flurry of activity follows, including numerous news stories, "expert" analysis, criticism and outcry from the opposing party, etc. etc. and this week did not disappoint in any regard. Governor Walz laid out a budget to support his campaign goal of ONE Minnesota and it was quickly met with opposition from the GOP, who titled it One "expensive" Minnesota. 

The budget debate is the main focus of the legislature during odd numbered years. There will be much debate and analysis of what is and is not in the Governor's budget and eventually the House and Senate will have to pass their own budget plans before trying to reach agreement.  

In other news, many committees are holding hearings now, as bills move through the process of session and trying to meet deadlines.
The Governor's Budget
Governor Walz released his "One Minnesota" budget for the FY20-21 biennium, which addresses a number of his key priorities. Increased Education funding was frequently touted during in his campaign and his new budget proposes increasing spending on schools, by over $700 million. In addition to education Walz has also put forth a number of proposals to make healthcare more affordable. Most notably, he proposes giving Minnesotans a chance to buy into the state healthcare plan. The third tier of his plan is focused on greater economic success, particularly in greater Minnesota, including more broadband. And, the Governor's budget also calls for $133.6 million to be spent on housing; a larger investment than called for by any other governor in state history.

As you can imagine, all of these proposals are not without costs. Overall, Walz is proposing more than $2 billion in new spending. So, even with the state's projected surplus of $1.5 billion he still needs to raise revenues to meet his goal. To help bridge that gap, the Governor is proposing a 20 cents per gallon gas tax to pay for new transportation infrastructure, increased tab fees, a motor vehicle sales tax and continuation of the provider tax, among other things.

This is an ambitious budget and not surprisingly it was met with loud opposition and heavy criticism from GOP leaders who have dubbed it "One Expensive Minnesota", citing $3 billion in proposed tax increases over the next two years and another $4.7 billion in tax increases for FY22-23.   

If you would like to take a deeper dive into the Governor's budget and/or what is being said about it, here are a number of different links to get you started. Enjoy! lol

Gov. Tim Walz Unveils 'One Minnesota' Budget ...  
House Seat 11B Special Election
As of last week, the MN House remains short by one member until a  special election can be held to fill newly-elected, Sen. Jason Rarick's vacant 11B seat. Gov. Walz has called a special election to take place on March 19th. 

Tim Burkhardt, the only DFL candidate who filed, will have no primary challenger. Burkhardt is actually running for this 11B seat for the second time in a span of just 4 months. He lost to Jason Rarick in the general election back in November. 

Republicans will hold a primary on March 5, between challengers, Ayrlahn Johnson, a semi-retired substitute teacher and GOP-endorsed Nathan Nelson, a farmer and Clover Township Officer. 
Meeting Our MN Commissioners 
The people appointed by the Governor to  lead our state agencies can have a significant impact on the policies that are created and enforced in Minnesota. Sometimes these people fly under the radar. Whenever there is an opportunity, I will link to stories or interviews that give a glimpse into who some of these people are.

This week, we feature a Q&A interview with the new Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner, Steve Grove.     

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove
Top Legislative News 
Here are some of the many topics being discussed at the Capitol this past week - or will be soon:


Paid Leave and Minimum Wage

He likes big bus: Walz's budget proposal aims to boost transit 

Car Tax

Solar Schools?

What's Next?

Given the Governor's budget release we can expect continued squabbling over the coming weeks, until it all gets sorted out and pieces of it are kept in or thrown out, prior to a final vote. 

Next week the Governor's new slate of Commissioners will be busy presenting their agency budgets in front of their  respective committees, where they will go into much more detail about specific provisions that may or may not also be part of  the Governor's 'One Minnesota' Budget. Committees will not be acting on these agency budgets. Rather, they will simply hear them for consideration as they develop their own budget ideas. 

With the Governor's budget now public,  expect GOP legislators to draw sharp differences between their goals and his budget. They will also begin trying to hold DFL legislators accountable for less popular items in the proposed budget.

Warm Regards, 
Cap O'Rourke
President, O'Rourke Strategic Consulting 

Cap O'Rourke | (612) 483-1863 | cap@orourkesc.com | www.orourkesc.com/
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