The 2020 Legislative Session will involve a new player: the Legislative Budget Office, or LBO. The LBO will be responsible for producing fiscal notes, working in concert with state agencies to estimate the fiscal impact of proposed legislation – essentially how proposed legislation might impact the state’s budget through costs, savings, or revenue changes.
If fiscal notes sound familiar, you’re not imagining it: fiscal notes have been an essential element of the Minnesota legislative process for decades. They are one of the important pieces of information provided when a bill is being considered by legislators. Through August 2019, Minnesota Management and Budget, an agency within the state’s executive branch, was responsible for fiscal notes. The new arrangement arose from 2017 legislation that created the LBO. Another wonky but important wrinkle: bills relating to taxes get estimates from the experts at the Department of Revenue, and that process will not change with the new LBO.
The LBO’s mission is “to provide legislators with the estimated fiscal impact to the state budget for legislation under consideration,” and notes that the office is similar to the Congressional Budget Office, which “performs similar analysis for the United States Congress.” Some other states have similar structures, too.
The LBO team includes Director Michelle Weber, Coordinator Kathryn Ho, and nine analysts who specialize in particular policy areas.