A little primer on budget conference committees

The supplemental budget conference committee met yesterday to start working through the bill. They walked through the spreadsheet and language for the Transportation and State Government articles. On deck for today are E-12 Education, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, Environment and Energy, and Public Safety. But that can always change.

As for Taxes and HHS? Well, Senator Cohen mentioned that they are still deciding whether to include the tax provisions in this conference committee or handle it separately. There was no mention of HHS. But it occurred to me that Senator Berglin and Rep. Huntley might have been left off the official conference committee so that they could spend more time negotiating their part of the bill behind the scenes…rather than spending hours sitting in hearings.

But you don’t need me to keep you up to date on all this stuff. There are great on-line resources you can use anytime.

If you want to get notices about meetings of the conference committee, sign up to get on the e-mail notification list for the Senate Finance Committee. In the drop-down box, it’s the one just after “Environment and Natural Resources.” This is particularly helpful later on in the process, as these conference committee hearings can get extremely unpredictable…last minute meetings, frequent delays and sudden cancellations.

Side by side comparisons of the House and Senate bill language are available from the Revisor’s office. If you are going to a conference committee hearing (or you can sometimes watch it on TV or on-line) it’s handy to print this out beforehand for your bill so you can follow along with the discussion. There is another type of side-by-side comparison that summarizes the provisions (rather than including the actual bill language). I don’t remember seeing these on-line, so I think you just have to be at the hearing at the right time to get a copy.

And you can also find the spreadsheets (called “tracking sheets”) detailing the fiscal impacts of the House and Senate proposals from their fiscal analysis departments: Senate Fiscal Analysis and House Fiscal Analysis. At this point in the session there are a bunch of them, and it can be a bit of an acquired skill to read them. But, if it’s really important, you can send me an e-mail (cwessel@mncn.org) and I can try to help you out.

-Christina Wessel

About Christina Wessel

Christina served as the Minnesota Budget Project's deputy director until January 2014.
This entry was posted in Budget Process. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply