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Legislative leaders agree to deal on unemployment fund, bonuses for frontline workers

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller confirmed the deal at the MinnPost Festival on Thursday morning. 

Moderator Peter Callaghan, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller and House Speaker Melissa Hortman shown during Thursday morning's MinnPost Festival session.
Moderator Peter Callaghan, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller and House Speaker Melissa Hortman shown during Thursday morning's MinnPost Festival session.
MinnPost photo by Tanner Curl

The top leaders of the Minnesota Legislature, appearing at the MinnPost Festival Thursday, confirmed a deal to resolve two issues that have been out of reach for nearly three months.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said they had agreed to Gov. Tim Walz’s request to spend $2.7 billion to shore up the state unemployment insurance system and send $500 million to frontline workers as thank you bonuses.

The same deal puts $190 million into Walz’s COVID response account to cover emergent needs related to the pandemic.

“We’ve been working long and hard on it and we’re happy to come to an agreement for the people of Minnesota,” said Miller, R-Winona.

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“Democrats are equally committed, if not more so, to meeting the April 30 deadline,” Hortman said. 

That date is when employers must send in first quarter unemployment premiums, assessments that reflect increases to pay back $1.4 billion to the federal government that was used to make jobless payments during the recession. Another $1.3 billion will go toward refilling the state UI trust fund.

The $500 million for Hero checks is double what had been agreed to last year. It would go to up to 670,000 frontline workers and could total $750. 

Discussion of the agreement starts at the 10:30 mark of the video: