Nearly five months of session have come to a close. On May 17, the Minnesota Legislature was constitutionally obligated to end session.

And yet, we do not have a state budget. We do not have an end to the governor’s emergency powers.

It shouldn’t have been this difficult.

With a $1.6 billion budget surplus, and billions more in aid coming from the federal government, Minnesota clearly had more than enough to fund state government. But our House DFL majority insisted on numerous tax increases throughout session, and did not back down from that demand until the final day.

The governor, Senate majority leader, and House speaker developed a budget target on May 17, just hours before we adjourned. This left no time to negotiate spending bills in every area of state government – such as K-12 education, transportation, and environment. All of that must now be done in a special session.

In the meantime, apparently no progress was made on ending Governor Walz’s emergency powers. This is troublesome for a number of reasons. If Minnesotans are no longer required to wear masks, and nearly 50 percent of residents in the state have received the COVID vaccine, then we are no longer in an emergency. Yet, the one-man rule over the pandemic continues.

I am disappointed with how the 2021 session played out. Its very clear the end-of-session deadline is really not a deadline. July 1 is the real deadline, as if we don’t have a budget in place by that date, state government will shut down. It seems to me that’s the game that was being played all along, and in my opinion it’s a poor way to govern and lead.

A special session must now be called to pass budget bills. That’s expected to happen in mid-June, giving us roughly 2 weeks after we return to St. Paul to discuss, craft, and approve budget bills and send them to the governor. Can that happen after leadership basically wasted 5 months of time due to political posturing? Stay tuned.

John Petersburg, R-Waseca, represents District 24A in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

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