By Charley Shaw
Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, second from left, and Sen. Richard Cohen, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, second from right, listen as House and Senate staff begin a comparison of the supplemental budget bills, during the first meeting of the conference committee April 22. Photo by Paul Battaglia
As the conferees for the supplemental budget bill began their work on Tuesday night, the House and Senate chairs had a sense of déjà vu.
Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul), co-chair of the conference committee on
HF3172, remarked at the beginning of the hearing to his House counterpart, Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr. (DFL-Crystal), that they both co-chaired the budget conference committee in 2008, which was the last time the House and Senate engaged in the arduous task of reconciling a budget contained in a single House File. But, he added, one major difference between now and then is they aren’t faced with a massive recession-induced budget shortfall.
The state’s fiscal situation has rebounded as the economy has recovered. The February economic forecast projected a $1.23 billion surplus for the current biennium that ends June 30, 2015.
Prior to the Easter/Passover recess, the House and Senate passed differing versions of
HF3172, of which Carlson and Cohen are the chief sponsors. The House bill would spend $322 million while the Senate would spend $209 million. Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal would spend $141 million.