By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Because of COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz is scaling back his supplemental budget request. His proposal leaves $1.2 billion unspent so the state would have money at the ready to deal with the growing coronavirus threat.

“We have anticipated that cases of coronavirus will increase,” Walz said. “We are seeing that pattern play out and we know that there is more to come.”

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In addition to the $1.2 billion Walz wants to leave unspent from the budget surplus, $2.3 billion in a rainy day fund which would leave Minnesota with $3.5 billion in reserves. A statement from Minnesota House leaders praised the Governor’s proposal, but a spokesperson said the House leadership is not giving up on their plan to spend half a billion dollars from the surplus on more accessible and affordable pre-kindergarten and day care.

The Republican Senate Majority leader also says he is not giving up on his push for tax cuts – especially on a proposal to eliminate social security taxes.

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“I want tax relief as part of the discussions to pass bills early and wrap up the session and send everyone home,” said Sen. Paul Gazelka.

The Minnesota legislature is scheduled to go until the middle of May, but Walz and legislative leaders say there have been discussions to pass bills early and wrap up the session and send everyone home.

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But so far, there is no sign of a major push to do that, although everyone agrees that amid the COVID-19 threat, anything and everything here could change.

Esme Murphy