The road to a fair, responsible budget

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Governor Mark Dayton released his highly-anticipated budget proposal last week, it sparked what will surely be a robust and spirited debate over the coming weeks and months.

Regardless of where you stand on the Governor’s proposals, I think we can all agree we must strive to work out our differences in a way that is respectful, constructive and honest. Minnesotans expect and deserve an effective government. With so many big challenges facing our state, we cannot afford to let partisan bickering or misinformation dominate the conversation.

Next week, Governor Dayton will give his annual State of the State address. With the speech sure to focus on his budget proposal, this will be an opportunity for Minnesotans to gather more information and learn more about the Governor’s plan.

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As we make our way through the legislative session, both the House and Senate will craft their own respective budget and tax proposals. Each plan will differ from what the Governor put on the table, but I believe all will share similar priorities, such as providing homeowners with property tax relief and investing in our children’s education.

Over the next month, the House and the Senate will hold ongoing legislative hearings that will shape each chamber’s ultimate budget proposal. However, the event sure to have the most impact on a final product is our state’s next economic forecast due in late February.

The February forecast could potentially reveal increases or decreases to the $1.1 billion deficit projected last November, which could have a big impact on proposals from the Governor and Legislature.

With an initial deadline for House and Senate committees to take action on bills introduced in their respective chambers by Friday, March 15, lawmakers will have to quickly incorporate any adjustments from the February forecast. One short week later, on Friday, March 22, committees face another deadline to take action on bills or companion bills that were introduced in the opposite chamber.

In the month to follow, the House and Senate will put together their own proposals based on actions taken by committees. After each chamber holds a floor vote and ultimately passes a final product, they must work out any differences between each proposal. Negotiations will yield a uniform bill that committees in each chamber must act on by April 19. Soon afterward, the House and Senate will hold one last floor vote and pass along a final proposal for Governor Dayton’s signature.

As you can see, we are in the very early stages of a process that will produce a fair, responsible budget. With the current legislative session less than one month old, I am excited to tackle all the hard work that lies ahead.

As the legislative session continues to unfold, please continue sending me your thoughts and ideas about how we can grow our economy and put Minnesota on sound fiscal footing. You can reach me by phone at 651-296-4193, by email at, or by mail at 487 State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Boulevard, St. Paul, MN 55155.