Senate Republicans on Thursday outlined a package of legislative priorities that mostly focus on laying out an alternative to Gov. Tim Walz’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. They propose sending students to in-person learning, as well as opening up businesses fully as long as they have a COVID-19 safety plan.
The proposals face an uncertain path in the months ahead; the House, controlled by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, has been largely supportive of Walz’s approach to the pandemic.
Lawmakers will also have to debate a new two-year budget and close a $883 million deficit.
Senate Republicans are also proposing state agencies impose spending cuts of 5% across the board, saying state government should also share in bearing the brunt of the economic downturn.
“Senate Republicans will work to safely reopen schools and businesses to recover our economy,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement. “We will keep life affordable by balancing the budget — without raising taxes. That means no new gas tax, no new income tax, no new sales tax. And we are going to ask government to tighten its belt, as well.”
Walz, the first term DFLgovernor, is expected to unveil his budget and legislative priorities next week, but proposals for new spending will not take fuller shape until the state budget office publishes a fresh budget forecast in late February.