The Potluck

Deadline looming for lawmakers to finish writing budget bills

By: - May 17, 2022 4:52 pm

The gold quadriga stands atop the Minnesota Capitol. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Quarreling lawmakers, who have been slow to fill in details on a compromise $8 billion package of tax cuts and new spending, threaten to derail an on-time end to the legislative session.  

Just six days remain until the divided Legislature has to adjourn, but lawmakers have less than that to reach compromises, draft bills and bring them up for floor votes in both chambers. 

Monday started on an optimistic note, as DFL Gov. Tim Walz and top legislative leaders announced a broad budget framework, setting spending limits for lawmakers on schools, public safety, health and human services and tax cuts, among other priorities. 

In the public safety and judiciary conference committee Tuesday, state Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, chastised Republicans for what he said was their slow pace of bringing forward an offer. 

Mariani said a previous offer by the Senate GOP that came on Thursday — before leaders and the governor set their budget target — was hardly a compromise position. 

“It moves away from the House (position), not toward it,” Mariani said. 

The health and human services budget bill similarly faced challenges in bridging big divides between the House DFL and Senate GOP bills. 

State Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, expressed concern that if the conference committee continued taking testimony, the two sides would struggle to finish their work on time. 

Still, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, predicted health and human services and public safety could be wrapped up in the next day or two. He said other budget areas like higher education and drought relief are close to reaching deals. 

“The conference committees need to start getting serious about getting done,” Miller said, with the largest budget areas facing a Wednesday deadline to finish on time. 

The framework announced on Monday calls for: $1 billion for education; $1 billion for health and human services; $450 million for public safety; $1.4 billion for a bonding bill; $4 billion for a tax bill; and $4 billion left unspent in case of any future disruptions to the state economy. 

The Senate earlier on Tuesday approved a pension bill and legacy budget bills. 

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