It’s omnibus bill time in the House, with the majority bringing several packages to the floor over the last week or so to debate the full gamut of subjects and take votes on initial approval.
As expected, House Democrats put up the votes to pass their omnibus bills and Republicans have been doing the same as a majority in the Senate. This will set the stage for negotiations to take place and – hopefully – agreements to be reached before the Legislature adjourns May 23.
I may take a closer look at the lay of the land and the gaps that need to be closed between these omnibus proposals in an upcoming letter. The most glaring top-line issue is, with a historic surplus, Senate Republicans are prioritizing tax relief by proposing an $8 billion cut, while the House Democrat budget spends $21 for every $1 in cuts. Stay tuned for more as things develop.
Meanwhile, legislation to repay Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund deficit and reverse tax hikes employers in the state faced despite a $10 billion surplus has been enacted into law.
This bill (S.F. 2677) provides $2.7 billion to fully repay the trust fund which was depleted with more people out of work during the pandemic. I am happy for our employers that we finally approved this bill. They’ve been through a lot the last two years and did not deserve the delays House Democrats caused on this issue by adding unrelated measures to what should have been an easy bill to pass months ago with widespread backing.
Senate Republicans approved a clean bill to rectify this issue in February, with broad, bipartisan support. House Democrats delayed action until late April, when they added more than $1 billion in other funding to the bill. This change complicated matters and delayed final approval, costing state taxpayers $50,000 in interest for every day the legislation languished.
Final language in the package includes $500 million in payments to frontline workers – approximately $750 per person – and $190 million is provided to Minnesota Management & Budget for continued COVID-19 expenses. Another measure allows just one legislative body to reject an expenditure instead of the current requirement for both bodies to object.
The bill was widely supported, with a 124-5 House vote and near-unanimous passage in the Senate before the governor signed it into law. Click here for details on the changes in unemployment insurance law, and you also can visit www.frontlinepay.mn.gov for information on frontline worker pay eligibility and more.
Have a good weekend and please stay in touch.