Budget negotiations continue
Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday that he and lawmakers negotiating budget bills spent nearly an hour on two policy provisions inside the agriculture finance omnibus bill – one of two discussions Dayton and leaders had behind closed doors for their second meeting in as many days.
Dayton has previously said – and echoed Thursday – that putting policy provisions into budget-related bills is problematic, although not a deal-breaker in some instances. While the agriculture finance and higher education omnibus bills were the first targeted for discussions, the governor told reporters the parties haven’t agreed on numbers yet.
“If they’re willing to drop the policy and deal with the budget, then I’m very confident we’ll conclude on time,” Dayton said. “If they insist on going through every policy item blow by blow, we’ll be here until January.”
The Legislature has a constitutional May 22 deadline to pass bills for Dayton’s consideration. While policy provisions often make it into appropriations bills, Dayton said Wednesday he counted 609 policies in the omnibus bills and wanted a more manageable number.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) didn’t comment after the meeting.
Thursday marked Daudt’s self-imposed deadline for three-way budget targets with the administration after House and Senate leadership agreed to a proposed $45.95 billion state budget on Monday.
The groups expect to meet Friday afternoon with a possible Saturday morning meeting as well.
Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), who chairs the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee, said the parties haven’t nailed down numbers but Dayton “agrees that we’re making progress.” The higher education omnibus bill “doesn’t have too much policy,” Nornes said.
The current higher education omnibus bill can be found HERE.