For most of Tuesday’s late afternoon and evening DFL Governor Tim Walz, DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman, House DFL Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, House DFL Ways & Means Chair Lyndon Carlson, Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazalka, Senate Republican President Jeremy Miller, Senate Republican Finance Chair Julie Rosen and a other key officials of the Administration have been negotiating the ‘20-‘21 State budget. Outside the Capitol room, in which they are meeting, is an encampment of news reporters with cameras and microphones awaiting any news whenever it may come. But for a dinner break this evening’s negotiations lasted until 2:30 AM.
Beginning today, Wednesday, there will be only 6 days remaining until we reach the constitutionally determined adjournment of midnight on Monday, May 20. As of this moment there is no agreement between the Governor, Senate and House as to the so called targets that define overall spending and taxes for the State of Minnesota’s ‘20-‘21 biannual budget of approximately $46 billion.
Over the last few days there have been a few volleys of negotiating offers between the negotiating parties, however, none that are anywhere near close to allowing the various Conference Committee to do their difficult budget detail work on a Department, Agency and so forth basis. We all hope that this evening negotiations will result in a set of new offers that will allow the conference committee to conclude the important and difficult work of sort out many, many details of the budget after the broader and major components are settled by the Governor and Legislative leadership.
The most significant of those offers this week came toward the very start of negotiations when DFL Governor Walz and the DFL controlled House offers up over $700 million in spending reductions from the House passed budget proposal. That offer was met with a rejection from the Republican controlled Senate who insisted on zero increase in state spending, no new gas taxes, no extension of the about to expire Provider Tax that funds key health programs of the state, and a number of other items of contention.
Monday afternoon the Senate offered a new proposal moving slightly from their zero new spending proposal to an additional $75 million for K-12 and $25 million for Public Safety. A short time later on Monday the Governor and House responding with an offer to reduce their proposed of a phased-in gas tax increase of $.20 per gallon to a phased-in over four years increase of $.16. Last evening The Senate rejected that offer ending Monday’s discussions.
The fact that they met so long on Tuesday afternoon/evening and into the early hours of Wednesday morning is a hopefully a good sign. Time for a resolution is now very short.
As of now we are awaiting new reports and hopefully progress. Hopefully later today we will have new news. I will do my best to update these report periodically as the next few day pass.