MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — The Minnesota House and Senate are starting to meet in a special session to finalize a two-year budget. Lawmakers need to pass a budget before July 1 or the government shuts down.
Monday morning, the Minnesota Executive Council met over Zoom. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz asked them to extend the peacetime emergency for another 30 days, and they did.READ MORE: Police Investigate Woman's Apparent Shooting Death In Austin
“It’s very clear now we are in the final stages, and most of the executive orders, as I said, will unwind or have unwound or will in the near future,” Walz said. “Today is simply re-upping the state of emergency so that the status quo, the work we’re doing, continues.”
There’s still a lot of work ahead of lawmakers to pass a two-year state budget. There are 14 different budget bills that focus on specific areas like education, public safety and health and human services. Together, each details spending plans for government agencies and services to total $52 billion in two years.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, said during a news conference that four of the 13 unresolved budget bills were “completely ready to go,” including higher education, agriculture, commerce and energy.
“The backdrop for our budget work at the State Capitol is the executive branch has to take certain actions to prepare for the worst-case scenario if there wasn’t a budget agreement. So as legislators are working at the Capitol, they will feel the pressure dial up, the intensity dial up, to get a deal done,” Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said.
Hortman said she believes it’ll take lawmakers between seven and 10 days to complete the two-year, $52 billion budget, matching Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s estimate.
“It’s never easy, but we will not go to July 1,” Gazelka said.READ MORE: At Least 2 People Struck By Vehicle On Nicollet In Downtown Minneapolis
The budget alone is a large undertaking. But it’s a steeper climb when it comes to policy issues, where Republicans and Democrats are still far apart, but getting closer. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, there is enhanced pressure from the DFL to pass more changes to policing in the state.
For the first time in 15 months, citizens are back lobbying at the Capitol, including community activist and attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong.
“When does it end? When does this cycle end? No one wants to be in the streets protesting,” Armstrong said.
Those who have lost loved ones to gun violence — including George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross, and Daunte Wright’s mother — were at a news conference Monday to announce the delivery of a petition to lawmakers with 65,000 signatures, demanding meaningful police reform
“How can you not be moved when people are losing their lives in the streets?” activist Toshira Garroway said.
Hortman said the public safety budget bill — which she called her number one priority — will likely be “the last bill to wrap” as lawmakers debate which police accountability provisions to include in the final package.
In a statement, Gazelka said his chamber is “committed to considering thoughtful offers to improve public safety, but will not be taking any proposals that make it harder for our state’s law enforcement officials to do their job.”MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Dangerous, Smoky Air Could Linger Longer Than Our Current Alert
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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