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Budget Talks Abruptly End at the Capitol, Gas, Healthcare Taxes Remain Sticking Points

May 12, 2019 11:00 PM

(KSTP) -- Budget talks between Minnesota lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz abruptly ended Sunday night without any clear resolution to major sticking points.

With a May 20 close to the legislative session, the clock continues to tick for lawmakers if they wish to avoid a special session.

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Walz and House Democrats have come down from initial spending proposals by around $500 million in the last few days and state that Senate Republicans have not made workable counter offers. 

The points that continue to draw the most conflict remain a gas tax proposed by Walz and supported by the Democrats and a medical tax. Republican lawmakers say the gas tax could suffocate financial growth, whereas Walz and the Democrats say the tax , which would  include a 20-cents-per-gallon increase at the pump, could be crucial in improving the state's aging infrastructure. 

The medical tax, the 2% tax Minnesotans currently pay when they receive a medical bill, has also contributed in stalling out Sunday's talks, according to KSTP's Jay Kolls, who was at the Capitol. The tax is set to end this July, but Walz and the Democrats are seeking to keep it in an effort to fund programs like Minnesota Care and others that benefit lower income Minnesotans. 

"We simply have tried to make a real attempt at compromise," Walz told reporters Sunday night after talks abruptly ended. 

"Minnesotans were pretty clear to me about those priorities they want to see but they also were very specific, and this is over years of being out there listening to them."

Paul Gazelka, Republican Senate majority leader, walked out of the Capitol before reporters could reach him for comment.

KAAL-TV

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