(Learfield News Service/St. Paul, MN) Governor Tim Walz and legislative leaders announced Sunday night they’ve agreed on the framework of a new state budget, but all the details won’t be worked out before Monday’s midnight deadline for the legislature to adjourn — meaning a special session will be needed. Republicans get income tax cuts for many middle-class Minnesotans and got the governor to back off from a gas tax increase. But Republicans had to agree to Walz’s demand for a permanent extension of the medical provider tax (at 1.8 percent). Senate G-O-P Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says the budget deal, “It was a draw, and it was good for Minnesota.”
Governor Walz had to go along with Republicans’ push for two years of “reinsurance” to hold down health care premiums, and his expansion of MinnesotaCare is *not* in the deal. “We weren’t ready at this point in time to say what’s coming next, that we’re going to try and work on it together, and I agree,” Walz said.
As for getting the deal so close to the adjournment deadline, the governor said, “I’m gonna count this as on-time, as a football coach. This is just an overtime period. That’s all this last one is, to get it finished. So we are on time.” Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka agreed. House Speaker Melissa Hortman says, “I would suspect that we can get a special session completed in one day on Thursday, if everybody agrees and everybody’s schedules work out.” But House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says, “I would guess probably five days at the minimum would be as quick as we could get out of here, but we’ll see if they’re interested in engaging us in some conversation.”
Governor Walz and Senate Republicans also plan a 500-million-dollar bonding bill for roads and bridges — but will need help from Republicans in the House, and Minority Leader Daudt said Sunday night, “We don’t know anything about a 500-million-dollar bonding bill. No one has talked to us at all about bonding, and here we are the day before the end of session.”