Still waiting for a state budget

June is a week old, and that’s one week closer to the end of the state’s fiscal year. State leaders still have yet to come up with a state budget plan that would avert a government shutdown on July 1, but there is still hope.

Negotiations continue and there is still time to get a deal worked out before the June 14 special session of the Legislature that Gov. Tim Walz is going to call to extend the COVID-19 emergency powers.

This issue has been a sticking point for Republicans for a year. They have been demanding the governor relinquish his emergency powers and consult with legislators before make any more COVID-related policy.

But that has not been brought up as a deal breaker for a budget bill, though it could become one. Instead, both sides seem amenable to making a compromise. DFLers have reluctantly given up the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy to fund increases in the state budget they want. That was a sticking point for Republicans. Republicans are making some concessions on police reform, though not as much as Democrats would like.

It is more likely that a deal will be struck than that the state government will shut down, we feel. But this is still a sorry way to run the state every two years.

Some pundits are suggesting the state go to a full time, year-round legislature, instead of the part-time version we now have. This would give legislators more time to work out their issues without the artificial deadlines created by the end of the session each year.

Perhaps it would help, but it could also just extend the current debates throughout the year, with nothing being accomplished until the threat of a shutdown forces the issue, as it does now.


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