Monday, May 18, 2009

Final day of session

Today is the final day of the 2009 legislative session. Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to wrap things up. The tax conference committee will be meeting this morning at 9:00 in room 15 of the Capitol. The Senate also goes into session at 9:00 a.m. and the House goes in at 9:30 a.m.

On the House floor last night, members tried to override the governor's veto of the tax bill. 90 votes are needed for an override. Senator Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said on the floor that the least lawmakers could do is have a balance of compromise. The effort to override the governor’s veto was defeated 85-49.

The tax bill, HF 885, was vetoed by the governor May 8. The bill was an attempt by legislators to reduce cuts to K-12 schools, hospitals and nursing homes by creating a new 4th tier tax bracket for the state’s top earners, increasing alcohol taxes and adding a surtax on income made by credit card companies charging excessive interest rates.

The governor and the Legislature have been at odds as to how to resolve the budget deficit. The governor’s position has been no new taxes, but to rely on cuts, shifts and use of appropriation bonds. The Legislature has said that appropriation bonds would be “borrowing against the future.”

Offers and counteroffers have gone back and forth over the weekend and the governor has signed the major finance bills, although some received line-item vetoes, including the higher education bill and bonding bill. The governor has said he is prepared to unallot spending proposals if no compromise is reached.

The governor took action on the bonding bill. HEAPR projects were funded at $40 million, however all the other projects were line-item vetoed. You can see the letter from the governor at the link here.

The governor signed the higher education omnibus appropriation bill, however he did line-item veto three areas in the bill, the funding for the TEACH program, the funding for the Power of You program, which was $500,000 for the current program and the $500,000 one-time funds for the pilot expansion. He also line-item vetoed the $40,000 for the Cook County program. You can find the details here.

With the attempt to override the governor's veto of the tax bill defeated, and legislators and the governor still not having reached a global agreement, further cuts to higher education by the governor could be a possibility.

The governor did sign the K-12 Education bill and the State Government bill without any line-item vetoes. He also signed the contract ratification bill that includes the IFO contract for 2010-11.

We will continue to keep you posted throughout the day.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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