Joint Budget Committee Takes a Hard Look at the Budget

The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) started meeting yesterday, Monday, May 4th, to discuss the 2020-21 state budget.  Earlier this year, JBC staff was estimating that there would be at least a $700 million shortfall this year.  Based on current economic conditions, the budget deficit over the next three years is expected to be as much as $7 billion.  The state expects to receive approximately $2.5 billion in federal aid, to be split between the state and local governments.  Most of this money can be used to cover COVID-19 related expenses but not be used to backfill revenue losses.

JBC staff developed recommendations that included both 10% and 20% budget cut scenarios for the upcoming year. Those proposals are being heard this week with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Agriculture (CDA) scheduled to be heard on Friday, May 8th. Largely, CDA is funded by cash funds or fees from programs they provide for farmers and ranchers, but the department does receive funding from the general fund. These are the funds CFB staff will be watching closely, as well as the cash funds, to ensure they are not swept away for a different purpose. Additionally, funding for water projects is largely directed through DNR from various sources. One of note is severance tax, which is currently taking a big hit. CFB staff will also be monitoring funding for water projects and water infrastructure very closely. 

The Legislature Reconvenes

The legislature is still expected to reconvene on May 18th and will focus on the state budget, school finance and a number of priority bills. There are more than 350 bills still on the calendar from the first part of the session that must be dealt with.  Legislative leadership is encouraging their members to work with stakeholders to make their bills “Fast, Friendly and Free” in order to have a better chance of passing.  Legislation that has a fiscal note or is highly controversial will not likely move forward at this time.  Conversations are underway to develop a list of priority issues that might move forward, with many of the biggest bills of the year already being pulled back.  Recently proponents of both the FAMLI Medical Leave bill and the Public Option for Health Care announced that they were discontinuing work on their legislative proposals this year.

While there are a designated number of days remaining, the legislative session is expected to be shorter, possibly as short as 2-3 weeks before officially adjourning. There is a high possibility of a special session being called later in the summer as well.  

CFB staff will keep you all updated as the postponed legislative session draws closer. Advisory committees will begin when the legislative session reconvenes. Information will be shared on a new schedule. Contact Emily,, with any questions.