Walz signs state budget bills
Congrats, Minnesota: It's a budget.
After holding a public signing ceremony for the state's education budget Thursday, DFL Gov. Tim Walz privately took his branded sharpie pen and signed the remaining bills that make up the state's two-year, $48 billion budget, according to a release from his office on Friday.
That includes the state's health and human services budget, which boosts working-family cash grants for the first time in three decades, a tax bill that lines up state taxes with recent federal changes and cuts income tax rates for the first time in two decades, and a transportation budget bill that funds a move to scrap the problematic licencing and registration system known as MNLARS and start over with a new system.
It also includes an agriculture budget that will put new money into mental health services for farmers and a small bonding bill that will pump millions into affordable housing projects. A bill to fund state government also authorizes the Secretary of State to tap into more than $6 million in federal funding to secure state elections.
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"We set out to make meaningful investments in health care, education, and community prosperity, and that’s exactly what this budget does," Walz said in a statement.
The signing comes after a one-day special session last week to finish the work. Walz and leaders in the Republican-led Senate and DFL-led House agreed to the deal late during the regular session, but they needed more time to complete all of the work.
In signing the bills, Walz and legislators avoid a potential state government shutdown, which would have happened automatically if there was no agreement in place before July 1, the start of the next fiscal year.
Many issues Walz pushed for on the campaign trail were not included the budget bills he signed: a gas tax increase, legalizing recreational marijuana, new gun control measures, among others.
But Walz said finding compromise in divided government was what Minnesotans expected.
“At a time when politics is filled with chaos and division, Minnesota is showing the rest of the nation there’s another way to govern,” Walz said in a statement. “We can work together. We can find compromise. And in one of the only divided legislatures in the country, we can overcome differences and put together a budget that improves lives."
The next Legislative session doesn't convene until Feb. 11, 2020.