ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Minnesota lawmakers reached an agreement Sunday evening on a two-year state budget just one day before they are required to adjourn.
There’s not enough time to pass the entire $48 billion budget so they will need a special session to finish their work. The budget deal came together after weeks of round-the-clock secret talks among the legislature’s three most powerful politicians.
The final product is a tough compromise with something for everyone to hate. A relieved Democratic Gov. Tim Walz called it proof Minnesota does not have Washington gridlock.
“Instead of dysfunction and shutdowns and yelling, we have compromise agreements, and as we said coming out here – we’re still friends,” Walz said.
The budget deal does not include any gas tax hike – a signature Democratic issue this year.
The health care provider tax that Republicans opposed remains, classrooms get a 2% funding boost for each of the next two years and there’s a middle-class income tax cut beginning in 2022.
All three sides described the intense negotiations as stressful and sometimes combative but “mostly Minnesota Nice.”
“Both sides when you have divided government want to win. Both sides don’t want to lose and sometimes instead of win or lose, it’s a draw. And that’s what we had here today. It was a draw,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka, Republican Majority Leader.
Despite the deal, there’s not enough time to pass all the bills. Legislative leaders expect the special session will take place Thursday.
“Minnesotans expect a government that works. They expect leaders that will work literally around the clock to make sure the state stays working for them,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman said.
The leaders have also agreed they will not vote on some of this year’s most controversial high profile bills. Among the measures which are dead for the year include gun safety legislation, immigrant driver’s licenses and abortion.