Minnesota lawmakers open the 2023 legislative session at noon today (Tues) with the largest projected budget surplus in state history — nearly 18 billion dollars:
Governor Tim Walz says his budget plan, due in about three weeks, “will make the largest investment in public education in our state’s history.” And there are a plethora of other interests vying for the surplus including Republicans’ continued push for tax cuts — although they don’t have a majority in either chamber. The governor continues pushing for “Walz checks,” but fellow Democrats don’t seem particularly interested. There’s also another push for a bonding bill for state public works projects — a “no go” last year because of divided government deadlock. But Democrats still need Republicans’ help to pass a bonding bill unless they choose to pay for the projects with the surplus, which then takes away from other programs. There are also a number of volatile non-budget issues on lawmakers’ plates. Most prominent among them: whether to legalize recreational marijuana, and Democratic leaders’ push to put abortion rights into Minnesota law as extra “insurance,” after the U-S Supreme Court struck down Roe -v- Wade.