Minnesota negotiators miss budget deadline, restart talks todayST. PAUL -- Negotiations on nine budget bills needed to end Minnesota’s government shutdown missed a Friday night deadline, sending the governor and legislative leaders into a morning meeting today to get negotiations back on track.
By: Don Davis, The Republican Eagle
ST. PAUL -- Negotiations on nine budget bills needed to end Minnesota’s government shutdown missed a Friday night deadline, sending the governor and legislative leaders into a morning meeting today to get negotiations back on track.
It was not immediately clear if failure to meet the 10 p.m. deadline means a Monday special legislative session remains possible.
“If everyone honors the spirit of the agreement, a Monday special session is not out,” said Gov. Mark Dayton’s spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci. “We are all still working toward the goal of calling a special session as soon as possible.”
Once politicians reach agreements, legislative staffers need to put bills in the proper form, which is why Dayton set the Friday deadline, leaving the weekend to finish the work.
The health and human services bill alone was 900 pages.
“Meetings took place yesterday and negotiations continue today,” House Republican spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said this morning.
Legislative leaders in budget areas ranging from the environment to public safety met behind closed doors Friday with Dayton commissioners. This morning, the commissioners waited in Dayton’s office for word to resume negotiations.
This morning’s discussions among Dayton and top Republican leaders were to provide guidance to negotiators. An agreement Dayton, the House speaker and Senate majority leader reached Thursday was vague, which led to disagreements during Friday negotiations.
The most obvious example was in talks about a bill funding much of state government. Senate Chairman Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said the meeting lasted eight minutes; he left over a dispute about what the Thursday budget deal between legislative leaders and Dayton allowed to be in the bill.
Dayton insists the legislative leaders agreed to leave out all policy items that do not affect the budget. Republicans claim government reform and other policy items still may be part of the final solution.
Dayton said on public television’s “Almanac” program Friday night that “adults” may have to step in and resolve some differences. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, agreed.
It appeared the Democratic governor broke a month-long budget stalemate Thursday when he said he would accept a June 30 budget offer made by Republicans who control the Legislature, but tacked on three of his own requirements. After a three-hour meeting, Dayton, Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, announced they had an agreement.
The deal delays state payments to schools and borrows against future tobacco lawsuit payments to gain $1.4 billion for more spending. That money basically replaces Dayton’s tax increase on top Minnesota earners with the plan to borrow from schools and tobacco funds.
Legislators left St. Paul on May 23, their constitutional adjournment deadline. Dayton vetoed most of their spending bills the day later, saying the state needs more money than the Republicans provided.
Republicans, meanwhile, demanded to hold spending at $34 billion for the next two years. Dayton says the agreement is to spend $35.4 billion.
The lack of a budget caused a partial state government shutdown.
While 22,000 Dayton administration workers were laid off, the rest of state government kept going, including the courts and the Legislature. About a third of administration employees remain on the job to provide what the courts determine are essential services.
Most of the 22,000 people cannot return to work until the Legislature passed and Dayton signs a new budget. However, has told agencies to recall employees needed to finish the budget work.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.