The big news this week was the release of the February budget forecast which sets the terms of debate for the two-year budget. The forecast projects how much money the state is likely to have for the upcoming biennium. Minnesota Management and Budget estimates a $1 billion budgetary balance which is $492 million less than the November 2018 forecast. It’s important to be cautious when the state’s budget balance decreases and diligent in working to balance any new investments with additional revenue.
In other notable action, after numerous delays and vigorous debate on the Senate floor, only $1.5 million of the $6.6 million in Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds passed the Minnesota Senate. Minnesota was the only state in the nation that did not pass full federal funding to strengthen election security. Full funding for HAVA passed in the House on February 21, on a bipartisan vote of 105-23.
Gov. Tim Walz also released his $1.3 billion bonding recommendations at a press conference earlier this week. The proposal focused on higher education, transportation needs, and efforts to create more affordable housing.
Senate committees continued hearing bills, including the more high-profile tobacco 21, reinsurance, and hands-free cell phone use.
Other press conferences held this week included an anti-poverty press conference and a press conference to ban private prisons in the state. A number of groups held their “Day on the Hill” including: STEM Advocacy, Rally for Health freedom, Volunteer Administration Day, Muslim Day, African Heritage Day, Corrections Officer Day, ClearWay, YMCA, Private Colleges, Pediatric Home Service, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Dignity in our Democracy, Dyslexia Day, FFA Day, and Take Action Day.
This week our new podcast, Call of the Senate, launched. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, Buzzsprout, and SoundCloud.
Robotics teams from junior high and high schools from across the state came to the Capitol this week to join Legislators for STEM Advocacy Day.
A press conference was held this week to introduce a legislative package to increase the state’s minimum wage to $16/hour, raise the Minnesota Family Investment Program grant …
A bonding proposal was introduced this week by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan to address a variety of pressing needs across the state.
Legislation that would ban private prisons in Minnesota was introduced this week.
The United Black Legislative Caucus, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Governor Tim Walz, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, and many others gathered in the Capitol rotunda for a rally to kick-off African Heritage Day on the Hill this week.
Minnesota Management and Budget released their February budget forecast this week.