New Budget Numbers and Legislative Changes Close Out 2019
Strong State Budget Forecast Released
Heading into the 2020 general election, the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget announced today the state budget forecast shows a surprisingly strong surplus of approximately $1.33 billion for the 2020-21 biennium. State statute requires an automatic contribution to the budget reserve, which will now stand at $2.36 billion. This announcement helps shape the political landscape heading into next session and into November of next year, when all 201 seats of the Minnesota Legislature will be up for reelection. This surplus could allow a smoother 2020 legislative session, enabling the legislature to spend a portion of the surplus on emergency supplemental budget priorities and drop some cash into a much-anticipated capital bonding bill that is expected to be the focal point of deliberations.
The surplus could also help a divided government resolve disagreements on a few controversial budget items, including how to pay for a solution to the ongoing insulin crisis and possible changes within the Department of Human Services.
The next state budget forecast, scheduled to be released in late February 2020, will provide final parameters for the legislative session. Members of the legislature, special interest groups and Governor Walz's administration are debating how to spend this surplus many times over.
View more detailed information about the state budget forecast on the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget's website.
Special Elections, Legislative Retirements Kick Off the 2020 Election Season
Following the passing of Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL – Minneapolis) last month, a special election will occur for February 4, 2020. If needed, a primary will be held on January 21. In addition Rep. Nick Zerwas (R – Elk River) announced he will resign from the legislature on December 6, adding a second special election on February 4 with a January 14 primary if necessary. Both seats are considered safe for the DFL and Republicans respectively, so any political drama will occur during endorsement battles and primaries. Additional early retirement announcements include: Sen. Dick Cohen (DFL – St. Paul), Sen. Scott Jensen (R – Chaska), Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL – Minneapolis), Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL – St. Paul), Rep. Alice Mann (DFL – Lakeville) and Rep. Hunter Cantrell (DFL – Savage). All have declared their intent not to run for reelection in 2020.
It is worth noting while Minneapolis and St. Paul are politically safe for Democrats, these particular legislators hold a great deal of seniority within their respective caucuses. Their departure will shift a good deal of that influence, especially during committee leadership selections, away from the state's urban core. The departure of freshmen Representatives Mann and Cantrell is also politically significant, as it leaves two contested suburban seats without incumbents, upping the pressure on both parties to put forward strong candidates.