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Walz, DFL House offer reduced gas tax increase as budget negotiations continue

May 13, 2019 10:13 PM

Budget negotiations between Gov. Tim Walz and state House and Senate leaders continued Monday with less than a week to go to overcome differences and pass a two-year state spending plan expected to top $45 billion.

Lawmakers have until May 20 to strike a deal during the regular legislative session. After that, the governor can call lawmakers back into a special session to finalize any remaining work. They must have a deal by June 30, the final day of the fiscal year, or the state government will shut down.

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After Gov. Walz and House leaders working together offered to reduce their proposed gas tax increase by from 20 cents per gallon to 16 cents per gallon late Monday afternoon, GOP leaders proposed using $43 million from the budget reserve to pay for broadband and deputy registrar reimbursement funding.

KSTP's Tom Hauser reported that Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said they’re “worlds apart” from Democrats on budget numbers Monday evening.

Hauser reported DFL leaders said budget talks were moving in a "disappointing direction" following the proposal from Gazelka and GOP leaders.

Earlier Monday, Gazelka said he had offered $100 million in additional spending to Walz and the DFL-controlled House. The offer contained $75 million more in E-12 education and $25 million more in public safety. Hauser reported Gazelka did not specify how it would be paid for, but said there would be no new taxes.

Walz responded by calling the offer "positive," but said it included no new revenue, making it hard to have an "honest conversation" about how to end the budget deadlock.

DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman, meanwhile, called the Senate GOP proposal "woefully inadequate." While she acknowledged they had at least made an offer, she said they offered no "honest" way to pay for it.

After Walz and DFL House leaders announced their offer to reduce the gas tax increase, Gazelka tweeted the gas tax remains "off the table."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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