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Minnesota Legislature

With clock ticking down and no budget deal, a special session starts to look more likely

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler eyes the clock in the House Chamber while Minority Leader Kurt Daudt speaks before a Friday morning recess. Just three days remain before the regular legislative session must conclude. Photo by Andrew VonBank

More talks, but no agreement.

That’s been the story much of this week and has continued Friday as Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders work behind closed doors to reach agreement on budget numbers for the 2020-21 biennium.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) emerged from talks about 4:15 p.m. to say a deal could be close, and that he remained optimistic session could end on time. As of 8 p.m. no deal had been announced.

Per the state constitution, the Legislature must wrap up its work by May 20 this year; however, as that time gets closer, it appears a special session could be needed.

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) told Minnesota Public Radio earlier in the afternoon that overtime is likely.

“I think in order to process bills in an orderly fashion and make sure they are not filled with mistakes, it’s going to take some extra time,” he said.

Only the governor can call a special session, but cannot decide when it ends. In recent years, a pre-special session agreement has been reached as to topics to be discussed.

This would mark the fourth time in five biennia a special session would be needed to approve a state budget. The lone exception was 2013 when the DFL controlled the House and Senate and former Gov. Mark Dayton led the state.

A few conference committees met Friday morning or afternoon, but without targets none are able to make significant progress. Many more conference committees are scheduled at the call of the chair or for Saturday. See the schedule.

If no agreement is reached by June 30, state government could begin shutting down. Fiscal Year 2020 begins July 1.

Heading into negotiations, differences were vast in both spending and policy. For example, Walz and the DFL have sought tax increases to fulfill their spending desires while Republicans believe the state’s funding needs can be met without additional revenue.

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