At a press conference last Monday announcing a framework to finish out the legislative session, Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders were asked a number of times for more details rather than just grand total numbers.
Lacking specific on things like taxes, health care and education, Walz told the media in attendance it is their role to be skeptical, but he was “pretty confident” things would come together.
It sure looks like it’ll be up to the state’s top elected official to decide if he’ll call lawmakers back to St. Paul — something he pledged not to do — in hope of reaching agreement on myriad supplemental funding bills that also contain key policy across the spectrum.
“We are not interested in a special session; whatever we get done today we want to get done today,” Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) said around 3 p.m. Sunday. “The tax provision is there, E-12 could come together fairly quickly, public safety could come together. … We’re pretty far apart on HHS right now.”
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Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen (DFL-Edina) would not want a special session called unless there is agreement. “We’re not going to come here as we’ve done in the past and just wait and see if there’s another agreement. That is a waste of our time and taxpayer dollars.”
Added House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown): “I am not optimistic about things coming together in a special session.” He is open to having conversations about a last-minute bill of “must haves” and a bonding bill.
“A divided Legislature means that we have to compromise,” Walz said during his April 24 State of the State address.
That has largely not happened.
Agreements have been reached in agriculture, broadband, higher education and veterans, although all but veterans still need to be passed by the Senate.
As the minutes tick away, it’s being reinforced more and more that partisan politics are playing a prolific role in failure to pass bills in education, environment, health and human services, public safety and transportation.
“Time is running short. I’m going to meet with the speaker right now to see if we can wrap a few of these up,” Miller said. “We’re gonna keep working throughout the day to try to find common ground and try to get these things done.”
“We had time,” said Lopez Franzen, who is critical of the Senate not addressing bills that are ready for a floor vote. “Senate Majority Leader Miller is not bringing us to the table to get that done. We’re willing to work, we’re willing to get that logjam freed up. There’s fault on both sides.”
“What we’ve got is a set of dueling priorities. Republicans understand we have the largest surplus in state history and we know that Minnesotans are suffering from the highest inflation in their lifetime and the highest gas prices in a decade at least. What we want to do as Republicans is move that surplus back to help Minnesotans,” Daudt said. “The bills that came out of the Minnesota House accounted for $21 of increased spending for every dollar of tax relief. Those are misplaced priorities.”
The $4 billion tax bill that was celebrated as done deal Saturday also failed to have all the minute details worked out.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said Friday the tax bill, which must start in the House, would not be brought forward until all other bills were complete.
Even a capital investment bill, traditionally the focus of an even year session, hasn’t been released.
It’d be hard not to argue the highlight of Sunday’s House and Senate sessions was Sen. David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm), who was diagnosed with ALS last year, making a rare chamber appearance to deliver a moving farewell speech.
Both bodies plan to convene Monday to hear parting words from the dozens of members who are not seeking re-election to their seats.
For the others, Election Day is Nov. 8.