Week 7: Halftime at the Capitol 


We’re seven weeks into the 2024 legislative session with seven weeks to go when the legislature gavels back in at noon on Tuesday, April 2. The first half featured the usual mass flurry of bill hearings as bill introductions gusted past 5,000 last week. The first half culminated in a handful of omnibus policy bills, but many policy bills are still technically alive as they found a way into a committee with “Finance” in its title. The first half also saw the Governor offer a supplemental budget plan only to drop it four days later as he and the DFL leaders in the House and Senate agreed to supplemental budget targets.

The spending plan would use $477M of a projected $3.7B surplus for this biennium, but the on-going spending impacts into what we call the “tails” budget is minimal at $62 million. That means the various finance committees most have one-time spending targets to work with. The plan would leave a surplus of $1.7B in the tails budget after considering the structural imbalance that has been projected, along with an unallocated inflationary estimate that is applied as part of the budget forecast process.

The second half of the session will see Finance committees sort through their spreadsheets as they work to layer in their supplemental spending targets. Seeing where the dollars go is part of the jigsaw puzzle, but the bigger mystery is what happens to all the policy proposals that are still churning through the process. The clock is the enemy and finding the 34th vote in the Senate will get difficult in the final weeks of the session. Oh yeah, it’s a “bonding” year and that General Obligation bonding bill needs GOP support to get to the Governor’s desk.