The Minnesota House is set to debate and vote on a $1.9 billion package of tax cuts and public works borrowing, long delayed after months of protracted negotiations.
The legislative package is intended to boost the ailing economy by cutting some taxes and creating construction jobs, even as the state faces an ever widening budget deficit. Adding to the stakes, the House and Senate are both on the ballot this year.
Lawmakers are in St. Paul this week for the fifth special session since May, called back on Monday by Gov. Tim Walz, who issued a 30-day extension of his peacetime emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said on Wednesday she is hopeful the legislation will muster the six Republican votes it needs to pass. Under the state Constitution,, legislation authorizing the state to borrow money for capital improvement projects must originate in the House and require a supermajority to pass. Similarly, tax bills are required to originate in the House.
The legislative package also includes one-time cash appropriations for state law enforcement agencies, including the State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources, which deployed officers to help quell the civil unrest this summer following the police killing of George Floyd.
Nearly $10 million is included in the bill to help defray costs related to the rioting and arson that racked the Twin Cities metro, half of which is paid for by the trunk highway fund. The remainder is from the state’s general fund.
A tax bill would also provide cuts intended to help farmers, allowing them a tax deduction for certain property and it would be retroactive to 2018.
“This is as good as it gets,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.
Some Republicans, however, oppose the bill because it does not address the state’s $4.7 billion projected budget deficit.
This is a developing story.