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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Deal reached on additional state spending

David Colburn
Posted 3/27/24

REGIONAL- DFL and Republican legislators have differing viewpoints regarding the $512.5 million supplemental budget framework agreed to last week between Gov. Tim Walz and DFL legislative leaders. …

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Deal reached on additional state spending


REGIONAL- DFL and Republican legislators have differing viewpoints regarding the $512.5 million supplemental budget framework agreed to last week between Gov. Tim Walz and DFL legislative leaders. That measure was approved Monday by the House Ways and Means Committee.
The agreement, more than double the $226 million figure first proposed by Walz, passed the committee on a 17-9 party-line vote. Out of the $512.5 million allocation, over $477.54 million for targeted areas has been agreed upon, preserving leeway for potential future additions.
The measure maintains the budget reserve at $2.91 billion, designates $350 million for the cash flow account, and prohibits additional expenditures in health care access or workforce development funds for this biennium.
Committee chair Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth, said, “As we all know, we had the main budget last year, so this is just a reflection of our ongoing priorities and needs for the state we see in our supplemental budget.”
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, cited Minnesota Management and Budget Office forecasts to suggest increased spending for a supplemental budget is unwise knowing that the upcoming Legislature might need to trim general fund spending by approximately $4.5 billion.
“This is a fiscal cliff that’s being created,” he said. “The idea that the government of Minnesota doesn’t have enough money and is not spending enough money and needs to do more is simply not in conjunction with mathematical reality.”
Key components of the supplemental spending plan include $53 million for tax aids and credits, $43 million for education, $42.13 million for human services, $36 million for the judiciary, and nearly $31.46 million for one-time educator pension contributions.
Olson noted that it will take significant effort from committee chairs to deal with the multitude of additional spending requests filed by legislators this term.
“We all wish we could do more, but our hope is that this spending is done wisely and leaves our state in a good place for years to come but takes care of urgent needs.”

EMS funding
While the overall compromise with Walz could be considered a generous windfall, one area that wasn’t targeted for additional funding was emergency medical services, an issue Walz pegged $16 million for in his original proposal.
The amount falls far short of the $120 million requested by Sen. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown and Rep. Dave Lislegard, DFL-Aurora based on the findings of a legislative task force that has been examining the staffing and financial problems faced by the state’s ambulance services, particularly in rural Minnesota. Hauschild nonetheless stuck a positive tone when asked by the Timberjay for his thoughts on Tuesday.
“I’ve been advocating since this summer for support for EMS. Given that effort, I’m proud that the EMS emergency aid made it into the Governor’s supplemental budget,” Hauschild said. “This is a big deal, especially given it is a non-budget year and we have a very slim budget. While it isn’t as much as I’m hoping we can ultimately get, it is important to note that EMS alone received more than entire policy areas because of how important it is and the strong advocacy from the Iron Range.”
“We’ll keep fighting for more funding as we move into the latter part of session,” Hauschild continued. “But in addition to the emergency aid, we are also making reforms to the EMSRB oversight board to be more responsive to the needs of EMS statewide, and we will be putting money towards innovation zones to test out new models for EMS. All of this together is one small step in the right direction of what will be a multi-year effort to solve this complex challenge.”
Tyler settlement
The largest single item in the supplemental budget is $109 million for the Tyler settlement, a class action lawsuit that was recently settled on the heels of a May 2023 U.S. Supreme Court case that found state law regarding property forfeiture was unconstitutional.
The nation’s highest court ruled unanimously that Hennepin County violated a homeowner’s constitutional rights when it sold her forfeited property for more than she owed in back taxes and fines and kept the $25,000 difference. State statutes indicates the property was taken in the name of the state of Minnesota.
Two class action lawsuits have since been filed against the state on behalf of Minnesotans who lost property to tax forfeiture and counties kept the surplus money. However, the settlement includes that the state will cover 80 percent of settlement costs and counties would reimburse the rest, meaning about $26.73 million will revert to state coffers in the 2026-27 biennium.