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Governor, GOP Leaders Remain at Budget Impasse

May 18, 2019 10:22 PM

The budget impasse at the Minnesota State Capitol means there's virtually no physical or logistical way to finish the 2019 session of the legislature by midnight Monday. So a special session is inevitable for the seventh time in the past 10 budget years after talks ended Saturday with no agreement.

Earlier in the day, the "cone of silence" among the governor and legislative leaders was broken by a loud rally by hundreds of teachers calling for more funding in the Capitol Rotunda. Governor Tim Walz broke his silence by addressing the teachers and standing with several Democratic House members.

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"All of these legislators standing in front of you, here's the deal," Walz said to thunderous applause. "We got three dozen people that need to hear our voices roar, we've got two days to roar, lets do it! Let's go!"

Walz was referring to the three dozen Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate. While Walz was challenging them at the rally, they were passing a "continuing appropriations" bill that would keep government operating if there's no budget agreement by June 30th. The move was harshly criticized by Senator Minority Leader Tom Bakk.

RELATED: Senate GOP passes "lights on' bill; no budget deal in sight

"I've been here long enough to have seen this kind of a stunt pulled before," Bakk said during debate over the bill, while accusing Republicans of "running out the clock" on the budget talks so they can avoid tax increases.

Republican Senator Dave Osmek of Mound took offense to that assertion.

"The word "stunt" was used," Osmek said. "We have 58 hours left. That doesn't help."

After the Senate vote on the bill, Republican Tax Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain defended the move.

"We believe it is responsible and prudent," he said while standing in front of other Senate Republicans on the steps of the Capitol. "It's common sense to do this. You hope for the best and plan for the worst. That bill will allow Minnesota to continue operations. All agencies, all work in the event of a shutdown in the State of Minnesota."

The bill would fund the state over the next two years at a rate 4.1% higher than now, or about $1.9 billion.

At the education rally, Governor Walz criticized Republican budget ideas as out of step with Minnesota's values.

"You know there are competing ideas about what Minnesota should look like," he said. "I gotta tell you I'm hearing a lot of great ideas from some folks that fit better in Mississippi and Alabama than they do in Minnesota."

Budget talks will resume on Sunday. No details of offers or counteroffers have been made public.

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Tom Hauser

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