Tempers flare but lawmakers and governor optimistic about budget | KSTP.com

Tempers flare but lawmakers and governor optimistic about budget

Tom Hauser
Updated: June 21, 2021 06:43 PM
Created: June 21, 2021 06:07 PM

Slowly and (possibly) surely, the final budget bills seem to be falling into place at the Minnesota State Capitol with less than nine days to go until a possible partial state government shutdown.

"It's my commitment that we not get to July 1," Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told reporters outside the Senate chambers. "I just think that would be really bad for Minnesota. I do think that the governor and speaker agree with that so we're all trying to move toward that place."

Gazelka's comments came as tempers flared repeatedly on the House floor during another marathon debate over the commerce, climate and energy bill.

The House and Senate passed budget bills that fund higher education and legacy environment and arts projects, assuring at least some of state government will keep operating after June 30. The agriculture bill is also close to heading to the governor. On Wednesday, it appears the transportation funding bill will be on the House floor, which could ensure that state highway projects don't have to stop.

"Transportation is ready to go, so that's exciting because I think if we don't pass the transportation bill by Wednesday or Thursday, there could be some impact on contractors," said DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman.

Gov. Tim Walz shares the optimism of Hortman and Gazelka, but just in case, his administration is sending letters to people with state park reservations and those depending on a variety of state services.

"There will be letters going out to people who receive a myriad of state services," Walz said during a news conference outside his office. "Those will go out today, just alerting folks of what's happening."

Although there is some progress on smaller budget bills, there are still not final agreements on bigger and more contentious bills like health and human services, education and public safety. Gazelka also said he still plans to find a way to end the governor's emergency powers.

"I still fully intend to end emergency powers as session ends," Gazelka said.

The deadline to reach an agreement on budget bills and other issues is June 30.

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