Minnesota Lawmakers Push to Finalize Budget Deal

Lawmakers Doubtful Deal will Pass; Look Toward Special Session

ST. PAUL, Minn. – One-hundred twenty days have passed since the Minnesota Legislature first started work on the state’s budget bill.

Monday evening the clock is ticking before the state constitution calls for a deal to be reached or the session will end without an agreement in place, resulting in a special session.

“It’s compromise and it’s democracy and it’s sometimes slow and it’s sometimes messy, but I think we’re going to have a good result,” said Rep. Sandy Layman, R-Grand Rapids.

The work started early on Monday; Minnesota lawmakers meeting to battle it out, hoping for a final deal.

“We’re working really hard to pass bills that the Governor will sign and that takes time,” said Layman.

Layman is still fighting in the final hours for funding toward the Grand Rapids Children’s Discovery Museum, IRRB and broadband expansion.

“Some really good investments for rural Minnesota and some really good things for Northeastern Minnesota,” said Layman.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and Senate are continuing to barter with their counterparts before bills are sent to Governor Mark Dayton’s desk.

“The reality is we’re in the minority and we’re doing as best as we can, as much as we can but it’s really up to the republicans to steer the ship,” said Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth.

House and Senate Democrats first set sail on this rocky voyage back in January.

“I really care deeply about our community and I care deeply about our state,” said Olson.

Care, creating a course of action for Representative Olson. As a freshman in the minority, she is seeing firsthand how difficult it can be to get the job done on time.

“We have worked so hard and in these last few hours of session we’re going to keep pushing the best we can to really come to a conclusion that’s helpful for Duluth, that’s helpful for our state, but I’m not the one behind closed doors,” said Olson.

Democratic Representative Jennifer Schultz telling FOX 21, funding for projects such as the Duluth Steam Plant, cleanup on the St. Louis River and
Duluth International Airport runway reconstruction look to be included in the final budget deal.

“We’re working really hard to make sure all of the Duluth projects are in there, especially the steam plant,” said Schultz.

State funding could mean millions of matched dollars at the federal level, especially for the Steam Plant and river cleanup projects.

“Sometimes leadership wants one thing, and right now the republican priority is tax cuts,” said Schultz. “There’s still disagreement on how to spend the money.”

Governor Dayton, deciding not to step back on his stance with funding for Pre-K and education in the state. Senator Clara Nelson, R-Rochester, took to the floor Monday after hearing of her father’s passing. Nelson is the chairwoman of the Senate education finance committee.

“I’m not sure if we can get all of our work done because the biggest constraint is the revisers office,” said Schultz.

Senator Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, feeling flustered when it comes to a midnight deadline. Simonson is, however, optimistic when it comes to avoiding a government shutdown.

“This really is a negotiation between the Governor and the House and the Senate and I think they didn’t allow enough time for that physically to take place,” said Simonson. “The republicans kind of walked away from the table in the final two weeks.”

Blame brought to the table as the clock ticks down. For now, lawmakers are holding together for hope this will be resolved with a brief special
session.

“We are really falling into what they have done and the decisions they’re making at this point leading us into the remaining hours of session and a lot of work left to be done,” said Olson.

“It’s more important to see the quality of the bills that are passed and I think that Minnesotans can be pleased with how they are being represented in St. Paul,” said Layman.

The next fiscal year doesn’t begin until July 1, giving lawmakers plenty of time to decide on a budget bill before a government shutdown would occur.

Monday afternoon, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson released a statement, saying the Duluth Steam Plant is still not included in the House version of the bonding bill.

Larson is remaining hopeful the Senate and Governor Dayton will include the project in the final budget.

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