The top priority for state lawmakers this session was to create and approve a new state budget for the upcoming biennium.
Unfortunately, the 2021 legislative session has now ended and a completed budget is nowhere in sight.
On the final day of session, the three top leaders in the state – the governor, Senate majority leader, and House speaker – came up with a budget target, determining how much the State of Minnesota would spend on government programs over the next two years.
This assumes one very risk – that every member of the majority party in each legislative body will vote in favor of whatever budget bill comes forward. If even a handful of majority members vote no in either body, this deal could blow up. Leadership from each minority party were purposely kept out of the negotiating room, and were not allowed to give input.
Personally, I am disappointed the budget has not been completed, and it is surreal that session is over and much work remains. A special session will be needed to wrap up the agreements.
But will the negotiation between the “tribunal” hold? Yes we have targets, but will there be true agreement at the end of the day? As they say, the devil will be in the details.
One of the issues with the plan is that we would be forced to pass this budget while the governor would not have to give up his emergency powers. To me, this is nonsensical. If we are no longer required to wear masks in this state, and more than 50 percent of the population has been vaccinated, we are clearly past the “emergency” phase of the pandemic.
Special session is expected to be called in mid-June to begin passing spending bills within each area of government, such as transportation, K-12 Education, and agriculture. Working groups made up of representatives and senators will try to craft bills that can be approved in both bodies, while meeting the criteria negotiated between the governor, House speaker, and Senate majority leader. Stay tuned for future details.