Senate GOP leader highlights initial budget offer, calls for COVID violation penalties to be waived

Josh Skluzacek
Updated: May 04, 2021 02:55 PM
Created: May 04, 2021 02:42 PM

Thursday, Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka discussed his initial budget offer to the House of Representatives.

Gazelka said the proposal doesn't include any new tax increases, which has been a priority for Republicans as Gov. Tim Walz and Democrats have proposed raising taxes for married couples earning more than $1 million and individuals earning more than $500,000 per year.

The Senate GOP leader also called for all Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses to be forgiven, which Walz has also said he'd support working through. Many states have already approved similar loan forgiveness measures.

Finally, Gazelka said all penalties against businesses that committed COVID-19 violations should be waived.

Additionally, he said there have been discussions about ending Walz's emergency powers, and Republicans' priorities are ending the mask mandate, all restrictions on businesses, schools and youth sports, and ending the eviction moratorium.

In exchange, Gazelka said the GOP made a concession on allowing zero taxes on unemployment benefits up to $10,200 and would agree to a two-year delay on California emissions standards the Walz and Democrats have pushed for.

Gazelka said "there's good communication" between him, House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Walz, adding that recent discussions have made him "more optimistic than I was a week ago."

The House is expected to deliver its initial proposal to the Senate later Tuesday.

Click the video box above to watch Gazelka's full press conference regarding the budget proposal.

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