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Minnesota Legislature Adjourns With Work Unfinished, But Unclear If Special Session Will Happen

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Gov. Tim Walz and top legislators met privately Monday to discuss next steps after the legislature failed to pass key proposals before adjournment, but it's unclear when -- or even if -- lawmakers will return for a special session to finish up their work.

Walz said he wants to call the legislature back to St. Paul to finalize deals on public safety, education, transportation and more. But after that meeting with House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, there is no timeline set or even an agreement among all three that they should.

"I'm not going to call them back unless there's a commitment to get some of these things done and tie up these loose ends," Walz said. "It would be my hope that we can do this sooner rather than later. But the outcome is what I'm most concerned about."

Hortman said she supports a special session to sorts out what's still unsettled, but Miller said just after midnight Monday that Republicans aren't interested in coming back, and he was pessimistic that it would be productive if they did return.

"What's the good of coming back for a special session on the taxpayers' dime? To me it doesn't make sense," Miller said. "If we couldn't get our work done by midnight tonight, how are we going to get our work done in a one- or two-day special session?"

Minnesota Capitol
(credit: CBS)

Leaders and Walz agreed last week to a big picture supplemental budget agreement on how to spend the billions in the budget surplus, which was at the center of the debate at the Capitol this year.

They were optimistic the legislature would work quickly to fine tune the bills within that budget framework, but it became clear by early Sunday afternoon that it was logistically unfeasible to finish everything by midnight. Key negotiators worked long days all last week to try to hammer out deals that never came together in time.

The state had a projected $9 billion surplus when session began, but by session's end much of it was left unspent.

Lawmakers in late April successfully passed a multi-billion dollar deal on frontline worker bonus checks and replenishing the unemployment trust fund accounts for some of that money. On Sunday before the deadline, both chambers sent bills with drought relief, investments in broadband internet and mental health funding to Walz for his signature.

"The issue here isn't a scarcity issue," Walz told reporters Monday. "It's simply a willingness to say, 'There's a lot of good things here. Let's get that done.'''

He said Miller asked for at least a few days to "decompress" and admitted that any special session wouldn't happen this week. In eight of the last 10 years, there has been a special session, though some have just lasted a day. In 2020, there were seven special sessions because of Walz's pandemic emergency powers.

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