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Minnesota lawmakers avoid government shutdown

The Senate passed the K-12 education funding bill and sent it to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature, averting the lingering threat of partial state government shutdown.

ST PAUL, Minn. — On Thursday morning, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a ceremonial signing of Minnesota's COVID-19 Recovery Budget, the state's budget for the next biennium. 

The governor was joined by Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan; health care professionals, small business owners, teachers, and students.

Overnight, Governor Walz signed four omnibus budget bills and a bonding technical bill into law, narrowly avoiding a partial government shutdown. 

The four bills include one making changes to bonding projects from last year's special session, money for businesses and Minnesota workers, changes to the state's public safety measures, funds for veterans and the largest increase to the state's education budget in the last four years. 

“Tonight, I am proud to sign legislation that invests in our students, bolsters public safety, and builds a stronger economy,” said Governor Walz in a statement released by his office. “This legislation will help small businesses create jobs, allow our students to catch up on learning, and make our communities safer for every Minnesotan.”

“Minnesota’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget ensures we get back to better for all Minnesotans,” he continued.

The late-night signatures followed approvals from the governor made earlier on Wednesday, when a smiling Gov. Walz hand-delivered the newly-signed education budget bill to Secretary of State Steve Simon in a photo-op, marking the passage of the state budget.

“We obviously would have liked to have it done a little earlier, but that's the way things work and democracy works at its pace,” Walz said.

While the two-year budget determines how the state will spend a record $52 billion of taxpayer money, it also includes $1 billion in tax cuts.

“Public safety was by far the most difficult bill. The two sides were very far apart,” said Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.

Gazelka touted the removal of Gov. Walz's emergency powers, which Walz says he is glad to now give up.

“I'm the happiest man in the state,” Walz claimed.

Because Walz also announced the state is on the cusp of reaching his COVID-19 vaccination goal by July.

“We're at 69.93% of vaccination, so it sounds like somebody tomorrow or the next day will go through and we'll have 70%,” he said.

It was a tumultuous year, to say the least, which is why the governor is in such a celebratory mood.

“You shouldn't get patted on the back for doing what you're supposed to do, but I'm telling you in 2021, trying to legislate in this democracy, especially with a divided legislature, it is quite an accomplishment,” Walz said.

Democrats and Republics both claim victories in this special session. The GOP is touting the tax cuts and extension of reinsurance. Democrats pointing at a 6% increase in education funding – with $35 million aimed at increasing the number of teachers of color.

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