Sen. Kent expresses frustration with budget process, special session
WOODBURY — Despite Gov. Tim Walz calling a special session Friday morning to pass a $48 billion two-year budget, Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-District 53, still showed up to Kowalski's Market in Woodbury for an "end of session" update.
Reps. Steve Sandell, DFL-53B, and Tou Xiong, DFL-53A, were scheduled to attend the question-and-answer session but had to be present at the capitol Friday morning.
Kent repeated something she often does: that the Legislature's job every two years is to pass a balanced budget. She said internal deadlines set by lawmakers earlier in the session had made her hopeful a budget would be passed without the need for a special session. Those deadlines were ultimately not met.
"There's been a lot of ink spilled about how very untransparent this process has been this session, and I agree," Kent said.
Kent also made a point to say she would not accept per diem, or daily allowance, for any of the special session.
"If we don't do our one job, I don't get paid for it," she said. State senators make $45,000 per year, plus $86 per day.
Kent said a decent compromise in the Legislature seemed close, though she said she was concerned with the amount of one-time funds that had to be spent to cover some of the budget costs.
Lawmakers were scheduled to be in session until 7 a.m. Saturday morning, though Kent said it was possible they would gavel right back in and continue with the session. With respect to the holiday weekend, Kent said lawmakers would likely be motivated to quickly wind up the special session.
"Maybe a few less long-winded speeches on the floor," she said.