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Lawmakers and the Governor Reach a Bipartisan State Budget Agreement

May 19, 2019 11:24 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- On Sunday night, a bipartisan $48 billion dollar budget agreement was reached at the Minnesota State Capitol.

With Minnesota having a Republican Senate and a Democratic House, many didn’t think an agreement could be reached before the Monday deadline.

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“We did something here that in 2019 is a big deal,” exclaimed DFL Governor Tim Walz in a press conference on Sunday, “Divided government with vastly different visions and vastly different budgets that came together in a manner that was respectful.”

A lot of the negotiations over the weekend happened behind closed doors.

“There are things that you just take a risk on and you try to figure out ‘What if we did this? Or that? and sometimes those questions are sort of difficult if you've got all of the media present,” said Republican Senator Paul Gazelka.

The deal gets rid of the governor's proposed 20 cent gas tax increase to fund Minnesota highways and bridges. However, the agreement does set aside over $93 million for transportation. More than half of that money will go towards the MnLARS replacement system.

“That work on MnLARS was a real leap of faith on all sides on a really frustrating situation for all of us,” said Walz.

Senate Republicans are touting tax relief saying the agreement includes the first income tax cut for the middle - class in nearly 20 years. The rate cut of -.25% per cent for the second-tier income bracket kicks in in 2020. Gazelka says Minnesota taxes will finally conform to the federal tax code.

On the other hand, Walz says Democrats are excited about investments in education and healthcare. $540 million will be going towards E-12 public education, which is an increase of 2% per student based on the general formula. Nearly $358 million is set aside for Health and Human Services. There will also be a continued 1.8% medical provider tax, which is down slightly from the previous 2%.

Republican Senator Carla Nelson reached out to ABC 6 News saying she is “profoundly disappointed the provider tax is included in the deal”.

The agreement also sets aside $10 million for economic development, $125 million for public safety and $500 million in bonding; which will include housing projects.

The plan is for conference committees to work out differences on all budget bills by Monday when the regular session ends. Then, they will have a one-day special session on Thursday.

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Hannah Tiede

Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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