Gov. Tim Walz reacts to the state budget forecast on Dec. 7, 2021. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer
Around the Capitol, no news tends to be good news when it comes to legislative negotiations, as tight-lipped lawmakers usually means progress behind closed doors.
Two weeks remain until the Legislature adjourns, with a long to-do list and busy schedule of committee meetings that aim to settle the vast differences between the GOP-led Senate and the DFL-majority House.
DFL Gov. Tim Walz met with legislative leaders Monday morning to go over budget spreadsheets as lawmakers debate how to spend the remainder of a $9.25 billion projected surplus.
Walz told reporters he was heartened by passage of a $65 million veterans budget bill and approval to distribute $300 million from an opioid lawsuit settlement.
Unlike the 2019 budget debate, during which Walz was joined by just two lawmakers to settle differences, the first-term governor said the high-level meetings are happening as committee chairs negotiate policy and spending differences, indicating a less top-down approach.
“There’s win-win-wins here, certainly the wins for the people of Minnesota we want,” Walz said. “There are both conservative and progressive wins that balance the budget and provide services.”
Walz said he wants to see a “balanced proposal” that includes tax cuts and direct payments he proposed and dubbed “Walz checks.”
Walz said he is going to push for additional education funding to address budget shortfalls, especially in special education. “If you don’t fix the cross subsidy issue,” he said, referring to the unfunded mandates that burden school districts, “They increase class sizes… or they remove staff,” he said.
Walz and legislative leaders have another two-hour meeting scheduled Monday afternoon.
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