No, I’m not talking about those large red bulls-eyes that are omnipresent in our state…I mean the “targets” that everyone is anxiously awaiting at the Capitol.
What are committee targets? Whether the state is facing a deficit or a surplus, legislators still need to decide how to spend the money that is available. So the House and the Senate adopt a budget resolution that sets the overall maximum level of revenues and expenditures for the general fund – basically deciding the “size of the budget pie.” The budget resolution also determines how much is in the state’s budget reserve and cash flow account – and it can set limits on expenditures from other funds.
Once legislators have set the overall level of revenues and expenditures, those resources are then divided up between the major finance committees – and that’s what we call committee targets. In other words, dividing that budget pie up into slices. Once the chairs of the various finance committees know what share of the resources they will get (these days it usually means how much money they will have to cut from their budgets), then they can do the serious work of putting together the omnibus bills.
This process can get a bit complicated because the House and Senate create their own budget resolutions and committee targets – and they are usually very different from each other. Plus, they also have their own rules for when and how to adopt budget resolutions and committee targets. I won’t drag you through the details, but if you are curious, you can read the House and Senate rules for yourself.
When will targets be released? Soon and very soon.
The House Ways & Means Committee has a hearing scheduled at 12:30 pm on Tuesday (March 26th) to adopt the budget resolution.
No word yet on the Senate side, but things could change in a moment. I heard the rumor that finance chairs in the Senate have been meeting behind the scenes, and there is a Finance Committee hearing scheduled for tomorrow morning…but nothing on the agenda yet.
But keep an eye on the blog…the Minnesota Budget Project staff will be part of the mad scramble to get a copy of the targets. And you can be sure that no amount of nasty paper cuts will keep us from getting the information up on our blog!