All budget all the time next week

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With a March 25 deadline quickly approaching, it’s all budget all the time, said House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove), as House finance committees’ omnibus bills roll out publicly over the next few days.

House tax and transportation omnibus bills are being heard today, with the House Taxes Committee expecting to vote on its bill tomorrow.  On Monday, the House Education Finance committee plans to walk through the E-12 bill, and the transportation bill is to be finalized. Health and human services, agriculture, jobs, judiciary, higher education and public safety are planned to be discussed and/or acted upon Tuesday, according to House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood).

“By switching policy and fiscal deadlines we have made a point of making the budget the first priority of the session,” Zellers said.

Fiscal notes have been requested but some aren’t ready, which concerns House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls). He said House rules require fiscal notes on bills to ensure they line up with budget targets before they go to the House Ways and Means Committee, their last stop before the House floor.

Some proposals that include significant reforms have not yet been “re-priced or priced at all yet,” Zellers said, causing delays in completing the fiscal notes.

Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo) denied there is an “anti-city” theme to the session, given proposed changes in local government aid and integration revenue for school districts, which have a bigger impact on large cities that might raise property taxes to make up for lost revenue.

Thissen disagreed, saying that Minneapolis and St. Paul would bear a “huge brunt” of such proposals.

“It’s just plain dishonest” to deny “nonpartisan analysis that says absolutely, objectively that they are raising property taxes,” he said.

Brief floor sessions are scheduled Monday through Thursday.