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Analysts: State Budget Process is Broken

Posted at: 01/15/2013 7:52 PM
Updated at: 01/16/2013 7:28 AM
By: Nick Winkler

Political analysts say streamlining the process could save tax dollars.

Dr. David Schultz, professor at Hamline University, calls the state's budgeting process outdated, flawed, and in need of reform.

First, he says lawmakers have little to do the first month of the session during budget years. They cannot begin to act until the Governor issues a proposal, often weeks after the session starts.

Requiring the Governor to issue a budget prior to the session starting would fix the problem. So too would changing the portion of the state constitution that outlines when lawmakers convene.

Schultz also advocates moving budget negotiations to even numbered years. Doing so would allow freshmen lawmakers a year to learn more about the state's fiscal issues and processes before having to help set a budget.

Schultz outlines a number of other measures aimed at streamlining the budget process and avoiding government shutdowns, special sessions, and other controversies that often plague the end of legislative sessions.

House Majority Leader Rep. Erin Murphy says she's open to considering reforms that might make the budgeting process more efficient but says they would not likely reduce the conflict often associated with negotiating a budget.