The November Budget and Economic Forecast, a financial snapshot prepared by Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), projects a budget surplus of $2.4 billion dollars for the current fiscal biennium, which runs through June 2025. That number is $808 million more than was projected at the end of the 2023 legislative session. The report attributes the increase to stronger than expected consumer spending, business investment and employment. Looking ahead to the next biennium, FY 2026-2027, MMB projects a much smaller surplus of $82 million under current spending and taxation levels.
Budget Commissioner Erin Campbell called the report “mixed” and urged caution, explaining that spending is expected to exceed revenues by 2027 under current conditions. Governor Walz and legislative leaders responded to the presentation, with DFL lawmakers citing passage of the bonding bill as a priority for the 2024 session while exercising budgetary caution. Republican leaders labeled the structural imbalance in future spending and taxation levels as a deficit, urging lawmakers to reexamine state spending.
Senator Mary Kunesh, DFL-New Brighton, was recently elected to serve as the chair of the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators, a group that works to raise the profile of tribal issues in state legislatures and to improve public policy. She joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the needs of indigenous people and to outline her priorities as the new leader of the caucus.
The people of Oregon voted in 1994 to approve medical aid in dying, the first state to do so. Since then, nine more states and the District of Columbia have followed suit, either by ballot initiative, court action or law change. Representative Heather Edelson, DFL-Edina, is author of the End-of-Life Option Act, a bill that would allow terminally ill adults who qualify the option of ending their suffering. She joins Shannon to explain.
Also in the program, Senator Ron Latz and members of Jewish advocacy groups called a press conference to condemn the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement. Plus, the State Emblems Redesign Commission met to whittle down the thousands of state flag and seal entries to six flag finalists and five seal finalists. Finally, when the current Minnesota State Capitol opened to the public in 1905, about a quarter of Minnesotans hailed from Germany. The Capitol's Rathskeller is a tribute to that heritage.
Advances in technology have dramatically changed how people live, and Minnesotans expect the highest level of efficiency and security from state government, whether renewing license tabs, buying a fishing license or applying for a state service. Tarek Tomes, Minnesota's Chief Information Officer and Commissioner of MNIT, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the agency's efforts to protect data and the possibilities for Artificial Intelligence.
Minnesota’s agricultural production is valued at $21.3 billion, seventh in the United States, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Thom Petersen, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, joins Shannon to talk about the health of the state's agricultural economy, efforts to diversify the industry, the newly established grain indemnity fund and the importance of international trade relations.
Also in the program, public school technology professionals provide testimony to members of the Legislative Commission on Cybersecurity and a look at the life of Minnesota's eighth governor, John Sargent Pillsbury.
Since 2014, Minnesota has had a petition-based system for people with low-level criminal convictions to have their records expunged. The Minnesota Clean Slate Act of 2023 will automate the expungement process, beginning January 1, 2025. The Senate’s chief author of the new law, Senator Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to explain the new efforts providing second chances.
Burnout, stress and low wages are some of the challenges facing Minnesota’s emergency medical services personnel. The legislature has created a Joint Task Force on Emergency Medical Services to look for ways to bolster these essential services. Senator Judy Seeberger, DFL-Afton, is a co-chair of the task force, and she joins Shannon to discuss the challenges facing the profession.
Plus, Governor Tim Walz holds a press conference to announce a new $10 million dollar initiative that will provide low-interest loans to small businesses, and a look at the life of Governor Cushman Kellogg Davis.
Minnesota’s agricultural production is valued at $21.3 billion, seventh in the United States, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Thom Petersen, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, joins Capitol Report moderator Shannon Loehrke to talk about the health of the state's agricultural economy, efforts to diversify the industry, the newly established grain indemnity fund and the importance of international trade relations.
The 2024 legislative session convenes Monday, February 12, and committee chairs are beginning preparations for the non-budget-setting session. Senator John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, joins Shannon to talk about the challenges facing nursing homes, workforce concerns, aging in place and top priorities for the coming session.
Also in the program, Governor Tim Walz signs an executive order making it easier for people to qualify for state jobs, lawmakers promote a new law that allows for second chances and the Metropolitan Governance Task Force considers the regional planning system of Portland, Oregon.