Governor Walz met with legislative leaders this week in a bipartisan press conference to announce the implementation of additional legislative deadlines for the 2019 session. These deadlines introduce benchmarks that major financial legislation would need to meet before the end of session, aiming to give legislators more time to negotiate and review spending bills, increase transparency, and reduce the tensions of the budget setting process.
The new deadlines, which require finance bills to be passed off their respective floors by May 1st, are intended to help ease the tension which has stemmed from late or inflated budget bills in the past. Each speaker at the press conference referenced the memory of conflicts surrounding previous attempts to pass a budget near the end of session, which led to state government shutdowns in 2015 and 2011, as well as a lawsuit between the executive and legislative branch in 2017 and the massive 990 page “omnibus prime” bill which was vetoed by the governor in 2018.
The earlier deadlines aim to give both legislators and the governor more time to review spending bills and increases the transparency of budget discussions for the public. Each speaker voiced hopes that greater public availability in the budget setting process would result in an increase in public pressure on legislators to negotiate legislative spending targets earlier in the year, although the effects of that pressure on the negotiation process are yet to be seen.