Poppe: Legislature on track to invest in futurePublished 11:14am Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last Friday marked legislative committees’ first deadline to pass policy bills introduced in their respective chamber, either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Bills that did not receive a positive vote before Friday’s deadline are unlikely to become law this year, unless they are introduced as amendments to other legislation.
Lawmakers’ next deadline to make sure their bills remain on track for passage is this Friday, March 22. At that time, companion legislation for bills that met the first deadline must be approved by a committee in the opposite chamber.
Some of the bills I authored that met the first committee deadline include reforms to expand our biofuel industry and an extension of the Farmer-Lender Mediation Act’s sunset date, which was already passed by the full House of Representatives last month.
After our second deadline, lawmakers will begin discussing more legislation as an entire body on the House floor, as opposed to smaller discussions in committees. Debates and speeches will soon stretch late into the night so lawmakers have an opportunity to share their constituents’ views and feedback on bills up for discussion.
Unlike policy bills, major appropriation and finance bills face a later deadline this spring on Friday, April 19. This week the House DFL majority released budget spending targets, which will serve as a framework to build a budget that grows the middle class and puts our state on sound fiscal footing. The targets set spending levels for finance committees to shape plans to fund everything from transportation to education to health and human services.
The spending targets need to be matched with revenue, which requires lawmakers to determine how to raise the revenue necessary to move Minnesota forward. As we all know, the money won’t simply fall from the trees. House Tax Committee Chair Ann Lenczewski has the role of preparing the tax bill that will fund the spending targets.
Last fall, Minnesota voters made clear they want the Legislature to prioritize improvements to our state’s education system, all the way from early childhood to K-12 to our public colleges and universities. With a projected $627 million deficit and a roughly $800 million balance remaining in school funding shifts, paying for investments and getting our fiscal house in order will dominate much of the debate at the Capitol over the next month.
This is a pivotal time for Minnesota. We’re poised to make serious investments in our children’s education, provide property tax relief to homeowners and businesses, support college students by addressing tuition increases, and end our perpetual cycle of budget deficits by rejecting the gimmicks, one-time fixes, and funding shifts of the past decade.
I encourage you to send me your comments, questions, and ideas about passing a fair, honest budget and making smart investments that grow our economy. You can reach me by phone at (651) 296-4193, by email at email@example.com, or by postal mail at 487 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.