2019 regular legislative session adjourns with budget deal, committee work to continue
May 21, 2019
After many hours of closed-door negotiations, Governor Walz, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka announced a budget deal on Sunday evening.
Governor Walz praised Republican leader Gazelka for coming forward with the rare trait of “listening” and credited DFL Speaker Hortman for her leadership in convincing leaders to not back away from negotiations.
Legislative leaders characterized the deal as a compromise from which no one got everything they wanted. According to the Governor, the “budget allows for meaningful investments in education, health care, and community prosperity. We set out to show Minnesotans that divided government can work. Now I want to set out to show them we can do it better.”
Speaking for his caucus, Majority Leader Gazelka called the deal “a draw.”
The deal includes the following highlights:
- No gas tax, tab fee increases, or sales tax increases for transit.
- Income tax cut for the middle class (.25 percent tax cut for second-tier income tax bracket).
- Taxes will “conform to the federal tax code, reducing the extra steps for tax filers.”
- 2 percent per pupil formula increase for K-12 education funding.
- Creation of a Blue-Ribbon Council to identify $100 million in savings.
- Continuation of reinsurance program for two years
- Provider tax reinstated at a rate of 1.8 percent ongoing.
We have a deal, now what?
The road to bring the budget deal to a close has been a bumpy one. The Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate Majority Leader instructed conference committees to complete their work by 5 p.m. Monday. While the higher education omnibus funding bill passed both bodies later that evening, no conference committees met that deadline.
On Monday at midnight, the 2019 regular legislative session adjourned, as required in the Minnesota Constitution, with nearly all bills still under negotiations with legislative leaders and the Governor’s office. This includes HF 2208, the omnibus jobs, commerce and energy bill.
The negotiations on these omnibus bills have been taking place in the “cone of silence.” We know that conference committee chairs, their staff, and the Department of Commerce met yesterday. No final agreement on the bill was reached. As of this afternoon, there is no update on the unclaimed property provisions contained in the House Commerce bill.
Additionally, our language has not been added to the bill we identified as a potential vehicle to strengthen elder financial protections. This kind of amendment is not a high priority for legislators at this point and is highly unlikely to be brought forward in a special session.
Majority Leader Gazelka has indicated committee work could continue later this week and beyond.