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Gov. Walz, Legislative Leaders Continue State Budget Negotiations

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Time is running out for Minnesota lawmakers at the State Capitol. They have a little more than a week to work out a state budget before the session ends, and there are several bills on which the two parties can't agree.

Although Sunday night's meeting ended without a compromise, it's possible Gov. Tim Walz, DFL leaders, and Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka could come back to the Capitol to continue negotiations.

Gov. Walz says that's all predicated on Sen. Gazelka bringing forth a counteroffer, which did not happen Sunday.

Just before 7 p.m., the Democrats and Republicans met with the Governor. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half.

Two major budget sticking points concern Gov. Walz's proposed 20-cent gas tax and the already in place 2% medical provider tax, which sets aside money for low-income Minnesotans for health care.

Gov. Walz said they made a budget offer last Wednesday, even cutting $400 million in spending and revenue over the next two years, but he says Republicans won't meet them in the middle.

The Governor is confident a compromise will happen soon, but he says his patience is being tested.

"It doesn't matter if there's a big story in southern Minnesota telling us that our transportation's at a tipping point and every single county commissioner and city manager and civil engineer was interviewed for it and said, 'Yeah, we got to do something or this can be catastrophic,' and yet we're still hearing no," Gov. Walz said. "So yeah, my frustration level is growing."

"For this session to wrap up in time in an orderly fashion, the Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus is going to have to come forward with some kind of offer, some kind of willingness to negotiate with us and so far they continue to be at zero," House Democratic Majority Leader Ryan Winkler

Sen. Gazelka left the Sunday meeting without talking to reporters, but he did talk to our Esme Murphy this morning, explaining why Republicans are standing firm on the tax proposals.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman says she's confident Sen. Gazelka is actively working on a counteroffer.

Although the deadline is next Monday, Sen. Gazelka said it's more like this Wednesday because the revisor needs the budget by then to get it prepared for Monday's deadline.

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