With a mere 30 hours left in the 2019 legislative session, it appears as though Minnesota lawmakers have struck a budget deal.
After fractious talks on Saturday gave rise to the very real specter of an extended special session, Gov. Tim Walz called a press conference at 6:30 p.m. Sunday and announced that there had been an accord reached.
The total value of the budget agreed is a little over $48 billion, which is more than the $47.6 billion the GOP Senate had proposed, but less than the $49.8 billion the House DFL had put forward.
The two-year budget will include the following:
– Back-to-back 2 percent increases in the K-12 education funding formula.
– A cut of 0.25 percent in the 2nd tier income tax rate, down to 6.8 percent (applies to joint filers earning between $38,771 and $154,020; single filers between $26,521 and $87,110).
– Creation of a blue ribbon panel to identify $100 million in savings in the health and human services department.
– 2 more years of reinsurance, which stabilizes the individual health insurance marketplace by subsidizing the healthcare costs of the sickest Minnesotans. (GOP wanted to renew for 3 years, DFL wanted to scrap).
– No 20-cent gas tax hike.
– The provider tax will be renewed, but at a 1.8 percent level instead of 2 percent. (DFL wanted to renew, GOP wanted to scrap).
Walz paid tribute to GOP Senate Majority Paul Gazelka for "sticking up for all Minnesotans."
"There were times that became very difficult," he said. "In those times, I asked Paul a couple of times, please listen to me. He listened deeply, understand where we're coming from. It's truly about relationships, trust and thinking about the common good. Personally as a friend thank you for listening."
He then said DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman was a "true partner in this," saying her "determination ... helped drag us back to the table."
Sen. Gazelka said that the result of the discussions was a "draw."
With the legislative session ending Monday at midnight, it will still require a special session to pass the budget, with House Speaker Melissa Hortman saying it will likely be on Thursday and should only take a single day.
Here are the key points of the budget discussions.