Next Friday is the second legislative deadline, where committees must act favorably on bills that passed the first committee deadline in the other body. Major appropriation and finance bills are exempted from this deadline. With the release of the February budget forecast, which showed a budget surplus set at $17.5 billion, the governor and legislature now must decide where to allocate the funds toward a two-year state budget. Legislative leaders will decide budget targets soon. Budget targets break down how much finance committees can expect to appropriate for their omnibus budget bills.
Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan presented their revised “One Minnesota Budget” this week. The revised plan doubles the public safety plan to $550 million for local governments to spend. $240 million would be dedicated to replacing lead service lines in community water systems for clean drinking water. An additional $10 million per year increase is being recommended to help cities and counties pay for vital infrastructure needs and local roads. Lastly, the revised budget plan will provide $2,500 in tax credits for the purchase of new electric vehicles.
Governor’s Revised Budget Plan
After the bonding bill passed through the House with bipartisan support, the Senate was unable to pass the bill with the required three-fifths supermajority. Senate Democrats have been able to rely on their single-vote majority to pass most of their legislative priorities this session, but the bonding bill would require seven Republican senators to vote for the bill. No Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bonding bill, making it clear that they won’t support it without corresponding tax cuts.
Bonding Bill Heard on Senate Floor
This week, the Senate passed the bill to provide free meals to all students by a vote of 38-26, with 4 Republicans joining all 34 Democrats. The bill funds the cost of providing meals to all students. The estimated cost of the program to the state would be $400 million in a biennium, or around $200 million per year. The Senate made changes to the bill to address potential lost revenue because of the reduction of students filling out meal-subsidy forms, which help determine a district’s compensatory revenue allowance. Compensatory revenue provides extra money to schools with high concentrations of poverty. On Thursday, the House concurred with the Senate’s version of the bill, and it is now headed to Gov. Walz. This is one of the governor’s priorities and he is sure to sign the bill quickly.
Universal School Meals Bill Advances
Business at the Minnesota legislature paused on Monday for the second-ever Sovereignty Day at the Capitol. After 2019, the event was put on hold due to the pandemic. This year was also the first time the Senate participated. Senators joined members in the House chamber for a day of celebration and recognition of Minnesota’s 11 Sovereign Native American tribal nations. Leaders from each tribal nation used the day to educate the legislature on Minnesota’s tribes and their sovereign rights. They also directly addressed the legislature on their legislative issues. The day began with a drum circle and procession of the 11 tribal flags on the House floor. After speeches from each of the tribal leaders, members attended breakout sessions on important issues.
Legislators Get a Pay Raise
The state’s appointed Legislative Salary Council has approved a 7.25 percent pay raise for the Minnesota Legislature. The council, which votes on the salary for Minnesota lawmakers in March of each odd numbered year, raised the salaries with the hope that this year’s salary increase will attract and retain more candidates, as well as catch up with inflation. Once the raise goes into effect in July, base pay for lawmakers will increase to $51,750, a $3,500 increase from their current pay.
March 24: Second Committee Deadline (committees must act favorably on bills that met the first deadline in the other body)
April 4: Third Committee Deadline (committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills by 5 p.m.)
April 5-10: Legislative Break
May 22: Last day of the 2023 Legislative Session