Budget deals coming together

ST. PAUL (AP) — Deals were coming together Wednesday as Gov. Tim Walz and top legislative leaders prepared for a special session to finish work on the state’s next two-year budget.

The Democratic governor, GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman had resolved the remaining differences holding up a tax bill, as well as bills to fund E-12 education, public safety and environmental programs. The leaders agreed earlier this week on funding bills for higher education and agriculture. But as of midday Wednesday the sides had not announced a date or duration for the special session.

The three leaders announced a framework for the $48 billion budget agreement Sunday night, about a 6% increase from the current budget. They left it up to conference committees to fill in the blanks and hash out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the main budget bills. But the task proved to be difficult and most of the panels had to kick the toughest questions back up to the triumvirate for final decisions.

Here are some highlights:

TAXES

The top leaders announced Sunday that there would be no gas tax increase, but that a tax on health care providers would dip from 2% to 1.8% and be made permanent at the end of the year, and that the tax bill would include a modest income tax cut for middle-class Minnesotans.

Documents released Wednesday shows that the tax bill also includes a $26 million increase in state aid to cities and another $26 million for counties for the two-year budget period, and $40 million increases for them in the 2022-23 budget, restoring the programs to the levels they were at in 2002

E-12 EDUCATION

The leaders on Sunday said per-pupil state aid to public school districts would rise 2% this year and another 2% next year.

Details of the $20 billion bill released Wednesday included money to preserve 4,000 state-funded pre-kindergarten seats that were due to expire, and more money for tribal schools, special education and school safety.

COMMENTS