2017 State Relations Session Summary
On January 3, the Minnesota Legislature convened in the newly renovated and beautiful State Capitol. After one year of the Senate convening in the Minnesota State Office Building due to construction, both the House and Senate were once again convening in one building. Republicans retained control of the House and took the majority in the Senate for the first time in five years by the slimmest possible margin, 34-33, meaning the GOP majority could not afford to have one member miss a vote. DFL governor Mark Dayton began his fourth and final biennium. The dissimilar majorities in charge of the legislature and Governor likely ensured a more challenging end to the session.
2017 Legislative Timeline
This session, the legislature and governor were required to pass a biennial budget, as well as seek to address unresolved issues carried over from the 2016 legislative session, including a bonding bill.
On January 4, Governor Dayton released his capital investment recommendations to the legislature. The $1.5 billion proposal included $154.7 million for University of Minnesota projects.
On January 24, Governor Mark Dayton released his FY18-19 budget proposal to the Minnesota Legislature. The $45.8 billion two-year proposal focused on four areas: jobs, education, government reform, and quality of life. The proposal included $96.8 million in new funding for the University of Minnesota.
In late February, the budget forecast projected a $1.65 billion surplus for the 2018-19 biennium, $250 million higher than the November forecast. Governor revised his budget recommendations, however no changes were made regarding the University.
In March, House and Senate committees began passing omnibus bills abiding by budget targets set by their respective leaderships. On April 28, the House and Senate leadership announced joint legislative targets, providing $45.95 billion for the biennial budget, including $1.5 billion in tax reductions.
Negotiations between the governor and legislative leadership ran out of time as the constitutionally mandated adjournment date of May 22 quickly approached. An agreement was reached just before midnight on May 22 and the governor called a special session at 12:01 am on Tuesday, May 23. The intent was for the special session to last one day.
However, the special session lasted four days. The legislature passed all remaining budget bills, including a bonding bill. In sum, the legislature passed a $46 billion biennial budget and $988 million bonding bill.
On May 30, Governor Dayton signed twelve budget bills into law, including the higher education and bonding bill.
The legislature is scheduled to reconvene for regular session on February 20, 2018.