Final stretch of the state legislative regular session
We have entered the final stretch of the state legislative regular session. Only 13 days remain until adjournment. Although we expect multiple special sessions throughout summer and fall, lawmakers will complete the majority of this year’s work before May 18.
House and Senate committees are very busy discussing and passing bills remotely. The live streaming restrictions allow for only two committees in each body to meet at a time, so the regular pace of the legislature has slowed down considerably. Yesterday, the four legislative leaders announced that all outstanding issues need to be agreed upon by midnight, Saturday, May 9, in order to advance this year. This deadline does not include major issues like bonding or taxes, or major spending packages like housing assistance or E-12 hourly workers' compensation, but it will clear up most other unresolved proposals.
Passing a comprehensive capital investment bill remains a top priority for the majority of the legislature, as well as for the University of Minnesota. As you might recall, a capital investment bill requires a three-fifths majority of both bodies to pass. This gives the House GOP and Senate DFL minority parties tremendous influence in final negotiations. The bonding bill is often the last bill passed in the session, with all deals contingent on securing the minority votes. On Saturday, House Republicans announced that they would not support a bonding bill until the governor's peacetime emergency ended. The Senate Republicans said they will not condition their support on ending the peacetime emergency, but are focused on negotiating oversight of the federal coronavirus funding and renegotiation of state employee contracts.
The University of Minnesota continues to advocate for a robust bonding bill this session. The University currently has a $4.8 billion, 10-year deferred renewal need across our system. We cannot address this backlog without state support. We encourage you to be a UMN Advocate and engage with your legislators in the final days of session.
This morning, Minnesota Management and Budget released an updated state budget projection. The state is now projected to have a $2.426 billion deficit for the current biennium – almost a $4 billion change from February’s economic forecast. There is $2.359 billion in the state’s budget reserve, which is available to mitigate some of the impact.
This unprecedented May budget projection update gives lawmakers more clarity on what will be a difficult budget situation. It is important to note that this is not a full forecast like we typically see in November and February. Due to delays for tax receipts, the state will not have a full picture of its budget until July at the earliest. However, this projection is an important step. Without it, the state by law cannot dip into the budget reserve account.