GOP, DFL leaders make little progress in replenishing unemployment insurance trust fund

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Legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz met late Wednesday afternoon to map out a path towards finishing this legislative session by the May 23 deadline.

But the more looming deadline is April 30, when businesses have to start paying higher unemployment insurance costs.

The Minnesota House passed a bill this week that would fully replenish the unemployment insurance trust fund that was wiped out during the pandemic and re-pay debt to the federal government.

But the DFL controlled house bill also includes $161 million to make hourly school workers, like bus drivers and classroom assistants, eligible for unemployment during the summer, and $1 billion for frontline workers’ bonus pay.

The Minnesota Senate, under GOP leadership, passed what they called a ‘clean’ bill that only focused on $2.7 billion for unemployment insurance.

So far, there are few signs of compromise.

“There’s about $400 million in amounts due that’s outstanding and so we know businesses are waiting for us to resolve this issue,” said Rep. Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park), the House Speaker.

“There is no reason that it couldn’t be resolved today,” Hortman said, adding, “if the Senate were to move as far towards us as we did towards them, we could put this bill on the governor’s desk today and resolve this issue.”

In response, Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) didn’t give much hope for a quick agreement.

“While I’m happy to see the House take action, they loaded up the bill with other items making it more difficult to find agreement,” Miller said. “I remain committed to working towards a compromise agreement.”