March 1 - 2019

Bills, Bonding and Budget Forecasts were the hot topics of this week and t he Capitol is buzzing with the activities of hearings, press conferences and longer floor sessions. Meanwhile, C ommittees are still busy hearing numerous bills; even some of the more controversial bills of session. 

The Governor released his list of projects that require infrastructure investments (bonding) and the state's latest Budget Forecast was also released this week. This will be the magic number that is used in determining how much money the state will be able to spend, moving forward. 

Grab your popcorn, because this juncture is generally when the squabbling really gets revved up.  
Governor Walz released a list of proposed bonding projects this week. Traditionalists will say that this is a budget year and only even-numbered years are for meant for Bonding. The truth is that more often than not the legislature does pass bonding bills in both years of the legislature, though it's typically a smaller bill when it occurs in an odd-numbered year. 

Bonding is essentially how we finance long term building costs for construction and renovation projects. Bonding dollars cannot be allocated or used for programming costs. A 3/5 majority is needed in order to pass a bonding bill - meaning, bipartisan support is required.

Budget Forecast
Remember the $1.5 billion dollar surplus predicted in November? Well, it just got a bit smaller. Evidently, the state now has only a $1 billion surplus for this biennium.  This budget reduction is not a huge surprise but the  new information will likely require Governor Walz to slightly scale back on some of his budget requests. W e will soon see if or how the Walz administration adjusts their budget requests accordingly.

GOP leaders said the new budget shows that this is not the time to raise taxes, as it will cause more top earners to flee the state; something they say is causing a projected deficit for the next biennium. 

House Seat 11B Special Election
Republicans will hold a primary next week (March 5), between challengers, Ayrlahn Johnson, a semi-retired substitute teacher and GOP-endorsed Nathan Nelson, a farmer and Clover Township Officer. The winner of that primary will face off against
Tim Burkhardt (DFL), who is running for this 11B seat for the second time in a span of just 4 months. Burkhardt lost to Jason Rarick in the general election back in November. 

The special election for House seat 11B will take place on March 19th. 
Top Legislative News 
What's Next?

Given the newly adjusted surplus numbers the legislature can now focus on exactly how much money they intend to spend on what.  

This part of session is very committee focused. Bills are being heard, amended, laid over, and moved to other committees.
Some committees will continue to review the Governor's budget proposals, but most of the focus will turn to policy committees and the many bills "in process" that need to make the first deadline. This means there will be many late night committee hearings coming up, as they try to process bills and work through any changes that might be needed.  

Meanwhile,  behind the scenes, the Finance chairs  are beginning  to work on the budget bills within their areas and the preliminary work of preparing omnibus bills.   

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

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