Precinct Caucuses Tonight with an Updated Budget Forecast on Thursday

February 27, 2024

We’re two weeks into the 2024 Legislative Session and a few things are starting to take shape. There have been numerous hearings on the Governor’s bonding recommendations in both House and Senate Capital Investment Committees as lawmakers prioritize assembling a bonding package that can get the required 60% supermajority to pass both House and Senate Chambers. Deputy Commissioner Kevin McKinnon has presented on the DEED portion of the Governor’s recommendations in both Chambers, highlighting the BDPI and TEDI programs administered by DEED.

There will be a pair of non-legislative events this week that may help shape the remainder of this Session. First, Tuesday evening will see precinct caucuses held across Minnesota where local voters can participate in their chosen political party’s process to hear from candidates and start setting party platforms for the November elections. This is the first step in the process to start setting the field for the November general election. We are in a presidential election year, but since Minnesota changed to a presidential primary process rather than caucus, this year’s caucuses will focus more on local races rather than weighing in on presidential preferences. Minnesota’s presidential primary has been moved to Super Tuesday, which takes place on March 5th.

The second event that will undoubtedly impact the remainder of this Session is an updated budget and economic forecast that will come from Minnesota Management and Budget on Thursday February 29th. This budget update, known as the February Forecast, will set the parameters for what the supplemental budget process will look like for the remainder of this year. As discussed in previous updates, the November Forecast showed a modest surplus for the current biennium, but warned of a looming structural imbalance in the coming biennium that could result in a deficit if the current surplus were to be appropriated this biennium. While sales tax receipts have been coming in higher than forecasted for the past several months, there is uncertainty of just how much money there may be to utilize during this Session. Expect party leaders to react to the February Forecast and outline their legislative priorities for the remainder of session as soon as the updated numbers are available.

There have been other hearings on priority bills over the past week, including an update from DEED on some of the new programs and funding passed during the 2023 Session, which can be found here. Another priority issue for 2024 is addressing rising child care costs in Minnesota. The House held a joint meeting of the House Children and Families Finance and Policy Committee and the House Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee to discuss HF 3681, which would provide scholarships to families with children under age five who earn less than 150% of the state’s median income, which was $188,468 in federal fiscal year 2023 for a family of four. To be eligible, the children could not receive child care assistance or an early learning scholarship concurrently. The bill would rely on an ongoing appropriation from the state general fund, but the amount appropriated is not yet specified, likely waiting until the updated budget forecast is known to see how much money could really be in play in 2024.

We’ll have a much better idea as to the scale and scope of the 2024 Session when we hear the updated budget forecast on Thursday.