[co-authors: Joey Novak and Stephanie Pinkalla]
Today was the first of three committee deadlines during the legislative session. By midnight tonight, bills must be approved by policy committees in the House or Senate. Next Friday is the second deadline, and bills that met the first deadline must be approved by policy committees in the House and Senate. The House and Senate majorities will release budget targets as they approach the legislative spring break (March 28 through April 7). Final appropriation bills must be reported out of House and Senate funding committees by April 24, the final committee deadline.
Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget plan this week after the recent announcement of the projected $1.86 billion surplus. Dayton’s plan focuses heavily on education, especially on funding universal preschool ($343 million), continuing the freeze on public college tuition, investments in special education, and addressing teacher workforce and retention. Other parts of his plan include increasing the Working Family Tax Credit, and modest investments in nursing home care, public safety and affordable workforce housing.
The Senate Transportation Policy committee took up the Governor’s transportation proposal (SF87 – Dibble (DFL), Minneapolis) this week, with a walkthrough of the bill Wednesday and amendments and further discussion occurring Friday. Highlighting the revenue note for SF87 is a 6.5 percent additional motor vehicle fuel tax, a ¾ percent increase in the Metro Sales tax and increases in license fees. Over 120 people testified on the legislation in this week’s hearings. SF87 is expected to move forward to the Senate Transportation Finance Division.
The House Tax committee took up a bill this week (HF1829 – Knoblach (R), St. Cloud) that would repeal the June accelerated sales tax payment requirement for retail businesses, reverting back to the normal procedure of tax payment from businesses due on the 20th of the following month. The provision was originally added to help the state with cash flow needs in times of deficit. Shifting back would result in a one-time revenue impact to the state of $263 million for FY15.
Additionally, House Taxes heard an overview on the Department of Revenue policy and technical adjustment bills (HF1589 & HF1590) that address minor changes to the state’s tax code. Senate Taxes focused heavily on addressing state tax policy issues with seven bills moving through the committee.