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Video: Why a divided Minnesota legislature needs an overtime session

May 15, 2021 05:56AM ● By Editor

Watch the KARE 11 News Report here

Photo: KARE 11 News

By John Corman of KARE 11 News - May 14, 2021

There's a growing consensus that Minnesota lawmakers won't be able to get a budget passed before the session ends Monday. They'll need to meet in a special session, most likely during June, to wrap up their work and thereby avoid a state government shutdown in July.

The State Capitol's "Big 3" - Gov. Tim Walz, Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman - continued to hold private negotiations behind closed doors in hopes of crafting overall budget targets.

Senate Leader Paul Gazelka held out hope Friday afternoon a deal could be reached during the weekend, even with the governor spending part of his time at the fishing opener in Otter Tail County. 

"We’re doing our best to try to find a budget that works best for everyone. So, we are having very productive conversations about federal stimulus money and other thorny issues," Sen. Gazelka told reporters.

But Gazelka acknowledged even if that happens Saturday or Sunday, it would still take too long for committees to finish processing all of the bills, pass them and get them voted on in both the House and Senate before the constitutionally-mandated final day of session midnight Monday.

House Speaker Hortman had essentially said the same thing a day earlier, that the sheer logistics of buttoning up more than a dozen budget bills and moving them through session calendars - complete with long debates - would be impossible by midnight Monday. 

Simply put, there are too many moving parts and too many divisive issues still in the mix. And reaching a deal on spending targets is just one obstacle. The Republican-controlled Senate and the DFL-controlled House have major policy differences that must also be resolved before they call it a day.

Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent expressed frustration that some conference committees had simply just stalled while they waited for the Big 3 to reach a deal.

"It doesn't mean we put everything on hold. It doesn't mean we don't have conference committee hearings; we don't adopt provisions, we don't keep negotiating the things where we're close," Sen. Kent remarked Friday.

"There's no reason for us to push everything off until June."

To watch the original report and see related reporting, follow this link to the KARE 11 News website.

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