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Shutdown avoided: Lawmakers reach a compromise on final day of Minnesota special session

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ST. PAUL, MN -- There will be no government shutdown.

Minnesota lawmakers finally passed every bill in the $52 billion budget, which has now been signed by Governor Walz.

But the session that was supposed to be over at 12 a.m. Thursday, could be extended for a few more days.

According to Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, the extension comes as there could be significant work on a bonding bill package of construction projects.

In reaction to all the developments at the Capitol, Governor Walz held a news conference Wednesday night, calling himself "the happiest man in the state."

The comment is in reaction to the legislature avoiding a shutdown, as well as his long-fought emergency powers ending at midnight.

As for what Northland lawmakers are saying about the developments in St. Paul, Republican Senator Jason Rarick said he is happy with the tax bill.

Rarick said there will not be new tax increases, businesses will not have to pay taxes on pandemic relief loans, and people on unemployment will have their income tax forgiven.

While Rarick wanted to see more money go to the jobs sector and to small businesses, he is pleased with how Northland schools will benefit and with the session's overall progress.

"It just takes some time to get through these final agreements, but we got it done and everybody here knew that a shutdown would not be good for the state," Rarick said. "We knew we needed to get it done and I think we'll get there."

DFL Representative Liz Olson of Duluth considers several local priorities a win, like help for Duluth schools and a $3 million forgivable loan for whichever company buys the Verso paper mill.

Olson said, when it comes to government, it is give and take.

"Divided government is hard and it means that there is a lot of compromise and things we give up on as we get to the end of session, so I think we did really well in this situation, but we did have to give up some things," she said.

Both Olson and Rarick said they wish all of this had been done in the regular session but are pleased with the special session's outcome.

"The people of Duluth really give us our charge as Duluth legislators and it's always loud and clear, and I heard that a lot this session, that the pandemic didn't impact everyone equally," Olson said.

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Kendall Jarboe

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