Budget negotiations continue as Minnesota lawmakers head toward special session | KSTP.com

Budget negotiations continue as Minnesota lawmakers head toward special session

Created: May 16, 2021 07:27 PM

There's no longer any question about whether there will be a special session of the Minnesota Legislature; the only questions that remain are when it will happen and what kind of budget deal it will take to get there.

In interviews on "At Issue" Sunday morning, House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, signaled Democrats might be willing to forgo raising some taxes this year, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said he could be swayed on some police reform measures.

Minnesota has a projected $4.4 billion surplus from a combination of state and federal funds, so Winkler said raising taxes wasn't immediate need — but it will be one in the future.

"Minnesota needs more revenue. And in the long run that's true," Winkler said. "What we're dealing with right now is a short-term wave of federal funds that makes those issues less relevant in the immediate term, and as a result we can get through this without major tax increases. In the long run it's not sustainable. This money won't keep coming in and Minnesota will need that revenue, and that's been our point all along."

Meanwhile, Gazelka said he can agree to some police accountability measures as long as they're not "anti-police."

"I'll just say as long as it's not anti-police, which a number of their measures are, then we'll explore those," he said. "I think if everybody comes to the table we can find some things. That's what we did last July when we passed about a dozen police accountability reforms."

Gazelka said the fact he'll be meeting face-to-face with Gov. Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman is a sign a deal will be likely by late Sunday or on Monday.

In a statement Sunday, Governor's Office spokesman Teddy Tschann said Walz "remains optimistic that state leaders are close to reaching a compromise."

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