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Legislative Update: March 2

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 2, 2020

As the calendar flips to March, things are finally starting to happen at the Minnesota State Capitol! Twice a year, in November and in February, state budget officials provide an economic forecast as a guidepost to lawmakers as they make taxation and spending decisions. The November forecast helps shape expectations before the legislative session begins, and the February forecast finalizes the financial position of the state showing either a surplus or deficit. The November forecast had shown a $1.3 billion surplus, but slower than expected sales tax receipts in January raised fears that a slow down may be on the horizon.  

The February forecast was released on Thursday, February 27 and shows the projected surplus has actually grown slightly – up $181 million – for an official 2020 surplus of $1.5 billion. Now that lawmakers know the true total on the bottom line, the supplemental budget process can begin in earnest.

The next major date for the legislative session is March 11th, when we expect Governor Walz to release his supplemental budget proposal, which will show how he would like to use the existing surplus. Democrats and Republicans held dueling press conferences to discuss the February forecast, with Democrats advising investments in one-time programs and cautious fiscal planning for future economic slowdowns while Republicans reiterated their top priority of returning the surplus to Minnesotans in the form of tax relief.

The committee schedule has been fairly quiet thus far, but now that the budget forecast has been finalized session can really start to ramp up. After Governor Walz’s supplemental budget recommendations are released, his Commissioners will make appearances in House and Senate Committees to advocate for those recommendations. This is where we will learn the budget priorities of House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

We will be bringing you weekly legislative updates from here on out, so watch this space to keep up to date on activity at the state Capitol between now and the end of May.

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