Budget negotiations broke down Monday night as a visibly frustrated Gov. Tim Walz emerged from a third round of meetings and blasted Republicans in the Senate.
“I don’t have fair partners to work with right now,” Walz said during a 15-minute conversation with reporters. “They cannot stand in front of you with a straight face, no matter how many emojis are behind them.”
Walz was referring to Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s (R-Nisswa) use of a chart containing emojis to explain the Republicans’ latest budget offer.
“Minnesota is in good shape with enough money in our budget, reserves, and surplus. No need for a $12 billion increase in taxes over the next four years,” the Senate GOP wrote on Twitter.
— Minnesota Senate Republicans (@mnsrc) May 14, 2019
The Republican-controlled Senate has been unwilling to budge on the 20-cent gas tax increase or the continuation of the medical provider tax. Instead, Republicans would like to pull $75 million for K-12 education, and $25 million for public safety from the state’s health care access fund.
“The Senate’s offer is woefully inadequate. It continues to pit elderly and disabled Minnesotans and their health care against the schoolchildren of the state of Minnesota. It does not honestly acknowledge the needs of the state,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) said.
In order to reach a deal by the May 20 close-of-session, lawmakers said that they need a deal to be reached by noon on Wednesday. If a deal isn’t reached, then the Minnesota Legislature would go to a special session and would have until June 20 before the state government shuts down.
“It doesn’t fee like we’re in a good spot,” Gazelka said Monday night. Walz agreed and said that negotiations likely wouldn’t continue Monday night.
Hortman was much more direct and accused Republicans of a “Trump style of budgeting,” saying negotiations are moving in a “disappointing direction.”
DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman says budget talks are moving in “disappointing direction” and accuses Republicans of “Trump-style of budgeting” and says they’re spending more time on posters with emojis and PR than making serious offers. pic.twitter.com/LQWNDdzkQI
— Tom Hauser (@thauserkstp) May 13, 2019
Earlier in the day, Walz did offer a concession on his 20-cent gas tax increase and agreed to raise the gas tax by 16 cents instead.
“In the latest round of budget negotiations, Gov. Tim Walz came back with a four-cent decrease to his gas tax proposal. Does that sound reasonable to you?” the Senate GOP said on Twitter in response.
— Minnesota Senate Republicans (@mnsrc) May 13, 2019
Gazelka said late Monday night that he’s “ready and willing to meet” but hasn’t “heard back from the Governor or the House yet to continue negotiations.”
We are ready and willing to meet but have not heard back from the Governor or the House yet to continue negotiations #mnleg
— Paul Gazelka (@paulgazelka) May 14, 2019
“It’s time for Governor Walz and Democrats to take their extreme $12 billion in tax increases off the table, and get serious about reaching a compromise budget that respects Minnesota taxpayers,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said of the negotiations. “There is no excuse to be raising $12 billion in taxes when Minnesota has a budget surplus and revenues continue to grow.”
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