(The Center Square) – The Minnesota legislature failed to reach agreements on a major construction bill, tax relief, or state employee contracts before the midnight Sunday deadline for this session.
The lawmakers could still find a middle ground in a special June session.
Minnesota House Republicans Saturday blocked Democrat's $2 billion bonding bill. Bonding bills must originate in the House and require a three-fifths majority, or 81 votes, to pass. The final tally fell six votes short.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, previously said he wouldn’t approve a bonding bill until Gov. Tim Walz relinquished his emergency powers, which the Democrat extended last week until June 12.
House File 2529 aimed to appropriate:
- $161.8 million to the University of Minnesota
- $263 million to Minnesota state colleges and universities.
- $200 million to the commissioner of natural resources
- $450 million to transportation projects
- $66 million to corrections
DFL lawmakers argued the bill would stimulate the economy and provide much-needed jobs.
“Updating our aging infrastructure will help our people, communities, and businesses make it through the COVID-19 crisis and provide jobs with wages and benefits that can support a family,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement. “Minnesota needs these investments now more than ever.”
Republican lawmakers cited the state’s projected $2.4 billion budget deficit as the reason not to pass the largest bonding bill in its history.
“Bringing a bill to the floor that is between two and three times the biennial average and puts Minnesotans on the hook for debt service we cannot afford is a disservice to Minnesotans," Daudt said.
Walz tweeted encouragement to legislative leaders Sunday to pass a bonding bill that again failed.
“Communities across the state are counting on the legislature to pass a robust Local Jobs and Projects Plan,” he wrote. “Work together and get this done for Minnesotans.”
Senate Democrats voted down a Senate Republican $1.4 billion bonding bill by a 38-29 vote Sunday.
Senate File 3463 included:
- $688 million for transportation.
- $85 million to both the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State colleges and universities
- $19 million for corrections
- $9.5 million for Veteran’s Affairs
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said the bill favored GOP territory, didn’t take advantage of low interest rates and called it a “slap in the face” to the metropolitan area.
The House last week ratified the contracts of about 50,000 state union employees that included two pay raises.
The Senate early Sunday voted 34-33 to ratify the 2019 pay increase for state union workers but tied a 2.5 percent pay raise in July 2020 to a budget surplus in July 2021.
Without action before July, the state union employees would have faced a pay cut.
Gazelka told reporters Sunday that passing GOP tax relief legislation and DFL spending projects likely required a successful bonding bill.