Omnibus bill conference committees begin

On May 1, the Minnesota House and Senate completed their respective omnibus budget bills in areas like higher education, taxes, transportation, and public safety. All budget bills are now in conference committees, where members of both chambers will work out the differences. 
 
The Speaker, Senate majority leader, and governor earlier this year made a global agreement to pass their bills off the floor on May 1, approve their budget targets by May 6, and complete their conference committee reports by May 13. Their goal is to avoid passing large funding bills in the final days or hours of a session—sometimes in the middle of the night—and create a more transparent process. They met their first deadline Wednesday. But with significant differences between the House, the governor, and the Senate on many different areas, it will take a major effort to bridge the divide and meet the Monday second deadline of their global agreement. The legislature must adjourn by May 20.
 
Many of you have taken time this session to engage your elected officials in support of the University. We are grateful for your help. I’d like to specifically point out the advocacy work done this session by University of Minnesota Extension. Since January, Extension agents, staff, and personnel have individually spoken with nearly all 201 legislators in the House and Senate to explain the work they are doing in local communities across the state. Their efforts remind legislators that the University has a presence in every corner of the state, and that state funding helps bring the important work of the University to cities and towns from Alexandria to Windom and everywhere in between. Thank you, Extension.
 
With 17 days left in the regular legislative session, there is ample time for University advocates to engage and ask their legislators and the governor to fully fund the University’s request. And this starts with securing a strong budget target for higher education. We appreciate your involvement, and thank you for your continued support.