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Gov. Tim Walz, DFL leaders celebrate budget with "generational impact"

Gov. Tim Walz, DFL leaders celebrate budget with "generational impact"
Gov. Tim Walz, DFL leaders celebrate budget with "generational impact" 02:24

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday celebrated the accomplishments of this legislative session steered by Democrats, including the next $72 billion, two-year state budget he said will have a "generational impact."

Walz, flanked by DFL lawmakers, state agency heads, and supporters held a ceremonial signing of the budget on the foot of the Capitol steps. 

"History will write the story," Walz said. "We're pretty sure it's gonna mean a fairer, more inclusive, better and more prosperous Minnesota."

The spending plan will fund government and its programs and services for the next two years starting July 1. It represents a significant increase over the previous biennium budget at $52 billion, but the plan spends the massive $17.5 billion surplus that is largely one-time money not available for ongoing investments.

The next budget includes rebate checks for many Minnesotans, and significant investments in areas like K-12 education and transportation. 

There's also new revenue-raisers through sales tax hikes in the Twin Cities metro, a new delivery fee on some at-home deliveries, and boating licenses, and more. 

Those higher costs through taxes and fees and increased government spending have drawn the ire of Republicans, who characterize the session as government overreach that's out-of-step with Minnesotans. 

"You look at the burden this is gonna be putting on Minnesota families and businesses and you wonder,  you know, is this gonna be sustainable in the long-term?" said Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, after the Senate adjourned late Monday. "That's something we're gonna watch going forward."

Democrats took back total control of state government -- the House, Senate and governor's office -- for the first time in a decade after November's elections. And with just a one-seat majority in the Senate, the DFL held their coalition together in both chambers to move forward several progressive policies this year.

They celebrated checking off everything on their top priority wish list. Among the items they passed: codifying abortion rights, a paid family and medical leave program, gun control measures, and universal school meals. 

"Minnesotans told us they were tired of gridlock and inaction and they wanted leaders that would get things done," said Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic. "We listened."

There are a few remaining bills for Walz to sign in the coming days, including a bill establishing a paid family and medical leave program and another to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older. 

There's also legislation to set a minimum wage and other protections for rideshare drivers. Uber has warned it will raise consumer costs and could curtail its services in the state. 

Some Minnesotans when they open the app see a message that urges users to sign a petition asking Walz to veto it. 

When asked by reporters Wednesday, Walz did not commit to signing it into law. 

"We're still looking. There's a few bills still on my desk that we have not signed," Walz said. "We're getting some input from other stakeholders and I will weigh it out."

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