State lawmakers had their first marathon budget negotiating session of the year Tuesday as they work to compromise on a spending plan for the next two years.
A day after they were at loggerheads over new and expiring taxes, Democratic and Republican leaders spent about five hours in a room at the Capitol trying to find agreement on a budget that is expected to top $47.5 billion. It was easily their longest time negotiating this legislative session.
Gov. Tim Walz began the morning in an optimistic mood, comparing the process to his experience as a high school coach building a winning football team.
“We are going to build a budget that invest in education, health care, community prosperity,” Walz said. “We are going to do it in the best of our ability, to get done on time and do it in a way that Minnesotans expect.”
Legislative leaders, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman had little else to say publicly Tuesday, a dramatic change from the day before when they offered regular updates.
“We are working through the budget and the fact that we were there that long should say something,” Gazelka said when leaders emerged for a dinner break.
Walz said they planned to resume talks Tuesday evening and work into the night.
Republicans and Democrats started the day of talks far apart on everything from education funding to taxes for transportation and health care.
Time is running short for lawmakers to settle their differences and ink a budget deal. The legislative session adjourns at midnight May 20 and both chambers need time to pass the nearly dozen bills that comprise the state budget.
If they need to go later, Gov. Walz would need to call a special session. The current budget expires June 30 and if it isn’t replaced portions of state government will shut down.