Local Lawmakers React to Last-Minute Budget Deal
A budget deal has been reached. Now comes the details. Governor Tim Walz and legislative leaders struck a deal Sunday night. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had to compromise to make it happen.
The budget does not include a controversial gas tax increase strongly supported by DFLers. Republican leaders say that was a deal-breaker. Rep. Ginny Klevorn, DFL-Plymouth, says she was disappointed not to see any new funding source for transportation get passed. She says without it, it only grow the cost of projects later on.
“We have engineering firms who want consistency in their work,” says Klevorn. “We need to be able to do these jobs when they are at their least costly. We’re just seeing what the Rockford Road Bridge, as you well know, how the construction bid has now gone up and the more we delay these projects, the more it costs us.”
While DFLers compromised on the gas tax, they were able to get a 2 percent increase each year for the next two years for public schools. DFL leaders originally wanted a 3 percent increase.
Republicans Disappointed “Sick Tax” Stays
One item that many Republicans oppose, but will stay under the budget deal is an extension of the medical provider tax. It will stay at a slightly smaller rate of 1.8 percent. It was previously 2 percent. The medical provider tax pays for the cost of care for lower-income Minnesotans.
Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, does not support the tax. She calls it “a sick tax.”
“Basically the sicker you are, the more you are paying of the tax,” Robbins said. “So people who have really expensive treatments like cancer, or intensive surgeries, or whatever, they are paying more of the tax. So it’s very regressive. I do think we need to provide adequate funding for health care, but I don’t support this mechanism and I was disappointed to see that they came out with that.”
A taxpayer funded special session is expected to take place Thursday to approve the final budget.