Tuesday, 25 July, 2017

Special session underway to pass unfinished Minnesota budget

Bashrat Special session underway to pass unfinished Minnesota budget
Felix Bryan | 28 May, 2017, 02:34

But progress on the budget was happening behind the scenes. It was too late to get the budget work completed by the end of the session at midnight Monday, but the agreement was solid enough for Dayton to call an immediate special session. Those measures make up about 70 percent of the state's budget.

The lack of public hearings might actually be a good sign, longtime Rep. Paul Marquart said.

Ahead of the overall deal, lawmakers on Sunday and Monday approved five of the 10 budget bills needed to finish their work.

The public safety and judiciary budget includes $167 million in new spending - less than Dayton has wanted but roughly twice what the GOP-led Legislature wanted to spend.

Special sessions have become routine at the Legislature.

State lawmakers are due back at the Capitol to wrap up work on the next state budget after a tense finish to the regular legislative session.

After Monday, positions will likely harden unless a deal is imminent. Instead, the preemption bill will be presented separately to Governor Dayton, who has pledged to veto it.

Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday, May 24, delivering chants like "veto everything" because they do not like spending bills mostly written by Republicans. The Senate approved a tax bill 44-20, while the House passed a transportation funding bill, which the author called the "most robust in state history".

Thursday's agenda includes bills to fund health and human services programs, state government operations and a borrowing bill for public construction projects.

That area of the budget, which pays for nursing home care for the elderly, welfare programs for the poor and health care for almost 1 million Minnesotans, has been growing faster than the money coming in. "We reached across the table and shook hands", Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, told reporters just minutes after it was struck. "How do we lower that so we have money for transportation and tax relief and education?"

To meet long-simmering needs, Republican and Democrats are planning to approve a $990 million statewide infrastructure bill.

The state should receive an increase of over $100 million in state grants funding, "if we're serious about making college affordable", Schultz said.

Numerous big dollar-saving items in the health and human services budget don't so much save money as move it around. To be sure, they had real differences.

Environment-related spending and policy changes come in a lot of bills, but the most discussed issue has been buffers.

HHS funding, as well as money for a variety of state programs, remained not done. That is a $210 million funding increase from the past two years, and $85 million more than the version Dayton vetoed. But with no votes on any bills by 8 p.m. Tuesday, it appeared they might miss that deadline.

Democrats said the compromise was insufficient when the state had such a large budget surplus. Sen. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick.

Dayton, a DFLer, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt joined Gazelka at the news conference just outside the governor's office.

"If we don't get done by midnight we need to stay here and get done, that's my preference". Currently, immigrants can not get drivers licenses in Minnesota, but that is only due to an administrative rule put in place by a prior governor. Still, Democrat Mark Dayton remains the governor and has a strong motivation to fight for his pet projects because the budget being passed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning is his last.

Another clause watered down a prior demand that the state conduct a study of the defunct private prison in Appleton before adding new prison beds.

But the bill's House author, Rep.

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