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Special Session Wraps Up Early Saturday

Legislature wraps up special session early Saturday morning. Legislature wraps up special session early Saturday morning. |  Photo: WDIO FILE

Updated: May 25, 2019 08:59 AM

Early Saturday morning, the Minnesota Legislature ended its special session after passing a $48 billion budget to fund state government for the next two years.

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The House and Senate passed the last of their budget bills Saturday morning and adjourned around 7 a.m., finishing the one-day special session close to the deadline that Gov. Tim Walz and top legislative leaders had set.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman says she and her fellow Democrats didn't get everything they wanted, but they secured new money for education and preserved funding for health care programs for more than 1 million Minnesotans.

House Republicans did not carry through on threats to draw out the session until Sunday by blocking procedural shortcuts. Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says they got concessions on operational matters for next session in return.

Duluth Reps. Jen Schultz and Liz Olson championed several pieces of legislation this session to benefit Duluth. After Duluthians supported it at the ballot box by a three-to-one margin, the Legislature has approved the local option sales tax for street improvements. $97 million of funding for the Duluth Medical District was approved for Essentia Health and St. Luke’s Hospital as well as a new Tax Increment Financing District downtown. $2 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund was appropriated for the Verso paper mill to help it convert to produce a more economically viable grade of paper.

According to Hibbing Rep. Julie Sandstede, the budget includes increased funding for education, with an increase of two percent on the per-pupil formula each of the next two years. It also includes protection of 4,000 voluntary pre-kindergarten slots and $90 million to address the federal government’s failure to properly fund special education. Middle class families will see lower taxes with an increase in the Working Family Tax credit and an income tax cut. With increases in Local Government Aid and County Program Aid, and a fix to the Taconite Municipal Aid distribution formula, local governments will be able to better deliver critical services without increasing property taxes.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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