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Special session unlikely on Minnesota $7.2 billion budget surplus



FILE PHOTO: Jeremy Miller

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — It appears chances are dead for a special legislative session that could have brought billions of dollars in tax cuts and new spending in Minnesota.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz told reporters late last week that talks with Republican leaders had “reached an impasse,” leaving about $7.2 billion of an original $9.25 billion surplus unspent.

About a week before the end of the regular session last month, Walz and top legislators announced an agreement on a plan to use $4 billion of the surplus over the next few years to cut taxes, $4 billion to increase spending in a number of areas and to save another $4 billion in case of an economic slowdown.

Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman told reporters that Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller told her the budget surplus deal was no longer in force now that the regular session was over.

“If Minnesotans think we need to have a special session to finish this work, if Minnesotans think we need to invest in schools and nursing homes and roads and bridges and pass these tax cuts, they need to let Senate Republicans know,” Hortman said.

Miller blamed Democrats for the impasse, saying they wanted too much in spending and that the two sides were millions of dollars apart on key budget and policy areas.

“Simply put, Governor Walz and the House Democrats have different spending priorities than Minnesotans,” Miller said in a statement. “After four months of session and four more weeks of discussions, the differences could not be resolved.”

Now that billions of dollars will remain unspent and taxes won’t be cut, next year’s Legislature and whoever wins the governor’s race will decide how to use the money. Control of both chambers is up for grabs.

Walz said he was open to restarting the conversation about a special session, but was not optimistic.

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