April 20, 2021
Omnibus budget bills continued to work their way through the legislative process last week with most passing through the Ways and Means and Finance committees in the House and Senate respectively. These omnibus budget bills will now go to the House and Senate floors for final markup and passage by each chamber. Since we have split party control in Minnesota (the only state in the nation with divided government), the omnibus bills coming out of the DFL-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate do not have much overlap, meaning the conference committee process will be more consequential than in years past as conferees are tasked with finding agreement between wildly different proposals. The omnibus bills will be debated in marathon floor sessions this week, and once all are passed Conference Committees will be named with work likely beginning during the final week of April.
In addition to work on the two-year budget there are other big-ticket items being worked on by lawmakers. House Democrats unveiled a large omnibus bonding bill and passed it out of the Capital Investment Committee last week on a party line vote. The bill is larger than a typical budget year bonding proposal and faces an uphill battle to secure the supermajority (60%) vote required to pass a bonding bill. The bill (summary here, spreadsheet here) provides for $100 million for public housing rehabilitation, $150 million in housing infrastructure bonds for new construction and rehabilitation of multifamily and single-family homes, $50 million for shelter funding, as well as $300 million in rehabilitation bonds for Minneapolis and St. Paul to rebuild in response to last summer's civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd.
The Senate has not released a bonding bill, but they have released a proposal to spend the federal funds that are slated to come to Minnesota via the recently pass American Rescue Plan Act. Minnesota is set to receive over $2.5 billion from the federal government, and if the Legislature does not come to an agreement on how to spend those funds during the legislative session, Governor Walz may be able to allocate it via the Legislative Advisory Commission process. Here is the letter Governor Walz sent to legislative leaders regarding this funding and his potential authority . Senate Republicans are keen to have a say in how this money is allocated, so expect this issue to be intertwined with end-of-session budget negotiations.
As outlined in previous updates, both House and Senate omnibus jobs bills make one-time cuts to MIF and neither provides base funding for the Redevelopment Account. There is one month left before the constitutionally mandated deadline of May 17th and there remains a lot of work to be done between now and then. EDAM will remain active and work with key lawmakers and conferees to push for base funding for Redevelopment in the Conference Committee process.