ST. PAUL, MN — The end is drawing near for this year’s legislative session in Minnesota and there’s still quite a bit of work for lawmakers to get done.
That includes passing a balanced budget to avoid a government shutdown.
The budget is the most important thing, and Governor Walz has told lawmakers in both the House and Senate to have their budget bills finalized by this week so the next month can be spent sorting out their differences.
That deadline is a direct response to chaotic finishes in recent years that have resulted in shutdowns and extended sessions.
In addition to the budget bill, lawmakers are also still working on a bonding bill to fund investments statewide.
Right now, the House is debating a jobs and energy bill which will encompass a variety of things including earned safe and sick time wage theft and more. That bill will also target green initiatives as part of Gov. Walz’s plan to be carbon free by 2050.
There’s also an education bill being debated that would have a big impact on Duluth.
Representative and Majority Whip, Liz Olson, from Duluth said the education bill would increase the general fund for school districts statewide, as well as streamline special education funding.
“We’re seeing a time when we really need to make sure all kids need to succeed, regardless of income, regardless of zip code, regardless of the color of their skin. So, it’s important that education is one of the biggest areas that we can level the playing field right away, and make sure every student is able to succeed and do well in life,” said Olson, DFL – Duluth.
In the House tax bill, there is currently a line that appropriates $164 million dollars for the Vision Northland project. There is no finalized Senate version, but Senator Erik Simonson has said in the past he would try and slide it into a tax bill.
We’re still waiting to see if the half-percent sales tax increase for Mayor Larson’s street improvement plan will be approved as well.
Items like the street improvement plan or Vision Northland don’t need to get accomplished this year, it’s only the budget that needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown.