ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers adjourned their 2019 legislative session at midnight Monday with little to show for it. Governor Tim Walz is now preparing to call a special session so the legislature can finish its work. But Gov. Tim Walz, a former high school football coach, counts it as on time.
“This is just an overtime period. That’s all this is to get finished. So we are on time,” Walz said.
The deal does not include a gas tax hike for transportation, but it does include a health care provider tax to pay for state health programs. Classrooms get a 2% per year funding boost, and there’s a middle-class income tax cut – the first in 20 years.
Lawmakers needed to pass a series of state budget measures to pay for everything from classrooms to highways to nursing homes. But when midnight rolled around, only one bill passed– funding for higher education.
It had been a chaotic couple of days since Republicans and Democrats agreed on a budget. On Tuesday there was near-complete silence and not a lot of public progress on any budget bill. But we are told there are many behind-the-scenes meetings with top lawmakers and the Governor.
Next comes the hard part – putting the bills together and convincing lawmakers to vote for some things they don’t support.
“Sometimes we are just a long ways apart. Eventually, you just have to jump to the middle, and that’s not easy to do. Nobody likes that, but that’s what has to happen,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka, Republican Majority Leader.
Not everyone is happy. House Minority Republicans say they’ll fight the health care provider fee, which they say is a tax increase.
“Minnesotans send us here to do what is right, not always what is easy. Sometimes compromise sounds good, but half of a bad deal is still a bad deal,” said Rep. Kurt Daudt, Republican Minority Leader.
Here is what we are expecting in the next couple of days:
On Wednesday, working groups of lawmakers will begin meeting publicly to put together all of the budget bills. If there is substantial progress, Governor Walz is hoping to call a one-day Special Session for Thursday. That’s the best possible scenario, which rarely actually happens.