Next week will see fireworks in the House of Representatives and the final word on how bad Minnesota’s state budget situation is before lawmakers have to get to work fixing it.
On Monday, House DFLers could attempt to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of SF 2168, a bill the Legislature passed overwhelmingly that would have preserved public health insurance under the state’s General Assistance Medical Care program, which is set to expire on March 1 due to Pawlenty’s budget unallotments last year.
The Senate voted this week to override Pawlenty’s veto, but House DFLers must find three Republicans to joint them in order to complete the override, and House Republican leaders have promised their caucus will stand with their governor.
Pawlenty and legislative leaders are expected to negotiate over the weekend to find a compromise that would keep an estimated 33,000 of the poorest Minnesotans on the health insurance plan, at least for another year.
In a press conference on Friday, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said she would prefer a negotiated agreement, but if one did not materialize, the veto override effort could take place Monday.
On Tuesday, Pawlenty’s budget gurus will release the state’s February economic forecast, which is the last piece of financial information lawmakers will have as they settle in to balance the state’s budget before they go home this spring.
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson and State Economist Tom Stinson will release the forecast at a press conference at the Capitol at 11:15 a.m. that will also be streamed live on the Senate Media Web site here.
The previous official forecast from November put the state’s budget deficit for the current budget cycle ending next June at $1.2 billion, even after Pawlenty’s unilateral budget slashing, and there hasn’t been much evidence that things have gotten much better or worse since then for the state.
The forecast will also give another hint as to how big the next two-year budget cycle’s deficit is going to be for the state. The November forecast predicted a $5.4 billion deficit, not counting inflation.