Governor, top lawmakers still trying to wrap up budget deal

May 16, 2019 10:19 PM

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and top lawmakers are still trying to wrap up a budget deal in hopes of avoiding a stalemate that could require a special session.

Talks broke off Thursday afternoon after just over an hour. And Senate Republicans passed a continuing appropriations bill out of committee. The bill, which would keep state government running if a budget deal isn't reached, was also given a second reading Thursday night, the press secretary for Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said.

It would only be needed if there is no deal by July 1. But disagreements surfaced there too. 

"This is something that is premature and should not be done at this hour," said Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul. 

"We must do what we have to do to protect the citizens, protect the state, protect the people who pay the bills and not play around with that," said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes. 

Neither side had much to say about the ongoing budget process itself.

"Ready to get it done," Walz said before Thursday's talks. "I got a haircut for the occasion, so this is it."

Walz would only say "we'll see" when asked if the sides were close to an agreement.

He joked about the process while speaking at the Minnesotans' Military Appreciation Dinner Thursday night in Bloomington.

In deference to members of the Air Force he promised to "land this plane on Monday" no matter what. But, he added, he has "no idea how many engines will be working."

As of Monday, the last time the leaders made substantive comments on the status of the closed-door talks, the two sides were about $1.6 billion apart on a two-year budget that's expected to total somewhere between $48 billion and $50 billion.

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