May 18, 2021 - News

Divided Minnesota legislature reaches budget compromise

Minnesota state capitol building

A budget deal is done, but a lot is yet to be hammered out at the Minnesota Capitol. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Minnesota's divided state government has reached a compromise on targets for a $52 billion budget, but plenty of major policy decisions still need to be worked out before the House and Senate meet again for a June special session to approve the deal.

  • "I think of this as a numbers-only agreement," Melissa Hortman, DFL speaker of the house, said at a news conference Monday.

Between the lines: Thanks to federal money, Democrats got the education funding they wanted for K-12 and summer schools and Republicans got the tax exemptions they wanted for businesses that got PPP loans and workers who collected unemployment benefits.

What to watch: The two sides, after late-night negotiations over the weekend, still haven't come to terms on how to reform policing and whether or not the state will adopt stricter emission standards, also known as Clean Cars rules.

  • That last point is a tricky one because Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria), the Republican lead on the committee that negotiates the final budget bill, has promised not to pass an environmental budget if Walz doesn't drop the Clean Cars rules, which Walz could implement administratively instead.
  • If an environmental budget doesn't pass, state parks and trails would shut down.

The intrigue: The agreement was criticized by some Republicans who wanted an end to the state's eviction moratorium and for Walz to give up his emergency executive powers.

  • "What have we accomplished? What did the Senate Republicans get? I think one word sums them both up: Nothing," Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) told MPR News.

News you can use: State leaders have once again failed to hammer out a budget before the last day of session, but Minnesotans had to file their taxes on Monday, before a deal was finalized. That's important for those who collected unemployment or PPP.

  • The Minnesota Department of Revenue said that if those tax exemptions are finalized, it will determine if it can make adjustments to tax returns automatically.
  • "If we are not able to make the adjustments automatically, we will communicate that to the impacted taxpayers and encourage them to file an amended return so they can access any refund they may be entitled to because of the law change," Minnesota Department of Revenue spokesman Ryan Brown said in an email.

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