Budget talks hit impasse
Governor Dayton and legislative leaders met in four separate meetings on Wednesday each with different results.
Leaders gathered around 10:30 a.m. to pick-up where they left off on Tuesday. They remained behind closed doors for the better part of the morning, breaking to go to lunch. Focus of the morning discussion was HHS and Taxes.
After a good lunch break (look up @baconmecrazymn), they returned to continue discussions on HHS and Taxes.
5:00 p.m. offer
Governor Dayton provided Republican leaders with his Wednesday offer. The “Meet Half Way” offer would split the projected $1.5 billion surplus for the sides to spend on their respective priorities.
The proposal would set aside $128 million to fund the courts and cybersecurity efforts, keep $10 million for the bottom line, then divide the remaining $1.36 billion.
That would leave $682 million that Republicans could use to fund transportation and tax cuts, and provide the same amount for the DFL to spend in other budget areas.
The Governor proposed a higher education budget target of $221 million, almost a $1 million less than his original recommendation but still $46 million from the Republican’s Tuesday offer of $175 million.
“I think this is fair and equitable, half-and-half, meet halfway,” Dayton said.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said the “different concept” in trying to find compromise in the numbers would take a little time to study before the Republicans could offer a formal response.
“We do appreciate the offer,” Daudt said. “We think we’re making progress and we appreciate that.”
8:00 p.m. offer
Republican leaders came back at 8:00 p.m. and presented their counter-offer. A few minutes later, leaders walked out of the room. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) walked out of the room and told reporters, “it did not go well.”
At that late meeting, Republicans made an offer they felt involved reasonable concessions. Dayton disagreed.
“I was pretty upset,” the governor said, after criticizing the GOP offer as inadequate. Dayton stated that their plan would have focused approximately 80% of funding on transportation and taxes – hallmarks of their budget plan. That would leave 20% to divided among other spending areas.
And now it’s Thursday
The Minnesota Legislature has to adjourn at midnight on Monday. If Dayton and lawmakers don’t agree on a budget by then, they’ll have to go into overtime and risk any unfunded parts of the government shutting down on July 1.
Leaders can’t wait until Monday to pass a deal, either. It will take lawmakers several days to fill in the details on bills even after Dayton and legislative leaders agree on the overall shape of the budget.
“If we don’t have it (Thursday) it becomes very, very messy at the end,” Gazelka said.
Dayton and legislative leaders plan to meet again on Thursday.