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Tax deal reached in final weekend of session at Minnesota Capitol

Briana Bierschbach, Star Tribune on

Published in News & Features

Notably absent from the final deal are one-time rebate checks for Minnesotans, which was a top priority of DFL Gov. Tim Walz. House Democrats said they initially offered his rebate plan in negotiations, but senators pushed back on its inclusion in favor of permanent tax relief. Independent Sen. Tom Bakk said he had concerns that one-time checks would be subject to federal taxes.

"Why would we have wanted to send that much of the surplus to Washington?" said Bakk, a former Senate tax chair. "I think people would have been pretty disappointed."

In addition to the $4 billion in new spending over the next three years, the global framework struck by Walz and top leaders leaves an additional $4 billion on the bottom line. DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman has said all agreements on spending and savings need to be secured before they pass the tax bill.

But legislative negotiators have struggled to resolve their differences on how to boost spending for classrooms, health care and public safety. Conversations are happening behind the scenes to craft a $1.4 billion package of construction projects in a bonding bill.

Talks are particularly tense around education, where the two sides have been been quarreling all week over how to divvy $1 billion on things such as special education costs for school districts, mental health funding for students and literacy programs.

Democrats are also pitching to allow hourly school employees to collect unemployment insurance, which Republicans don't support.


"I don't know what else to do," said Senate Education Committee Chair Roger Chamberlain, a Republican. "We don't have days and days, we hardly have hours to figure it out."

House education Chair Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, said the tax bill agreement should be a "model" for legislators trying to strike a deal on schools funding.

"It's Saturday evening, it's time to close out this bill," Davnie said. "We've got the resources to provide these services, we've got the needs."

Walz has said he doesn't want to call legislators back into an overtime special session to finish their work, meaning legislators face a midnight deadline Sunday to finalize the bills.


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