As we enter the final days of the 2015 regular legislative session, it is unclear whether the Legislature will be able to complete work on the state’s biennial budget before the session must end at midnight, Monday, May 18. Gov. Mark Dayton as well as House and Senate leadership have been meeting to resolve differences between their respective budgets, but as of mid-morning Friday, a global agreement has yet to be reached.
The state budget for the upcoming 2016-2017 biennium is divided into eight major appropriations bills and the omnibus tax bill. House and Senate leadership must reach agreement on the broad outline of the state budget and within that overall spending level, the state budget must be allocated to each of the eight major appropriations areas and the omnibus tax bill.
As of Friday morning, only two of the appropriations conference committees have received their “target” for overall appropriations within their jurisdiction — the Judiciary Conference Committee and the Higher Education Conference Committee.
Even if an agreement can be reached between the governor and legislative leaders before the end of the day today, legislators and staff will be challenged to process the volume of budget-related legislation before midnight Monday. If the budget bills are not passed by the deadline, Gov. Dayton will be forced to call a special session. Failure to pass budget bills by June 30, 2015 would result in a full or partial government shutdown.