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'Halfway' offer could change direction of budget talks

By Jonathan Mohr
Gov. Mark Dayton and DFL leaders speak to the media after meeting with Republican leaders May 17 in hopes of reaching a budget agreement. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Budget negotiations between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders changed directions Wednesday evening with a “Meet Half Way” offer from the administration that 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.

“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.”

The sides were tentatively scheduled to meet again at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Dayton met with legislative leaders Wednesday morning and again after lunch to dig into details of the health and human services and tax proposals. Participants described those meetings as “vigorous” and “meaningful.”

But the governor also said Republicans were making a number of assumptions in the reductions they proposed, calling it a “simplistic” approach that would result in “real cuts to real programs and real people.”

He also renewed his objection to the policy provisions contained in the budget bills

“I continue to say, if we focus on the numbers in the budget then I’m optimistic we’ll get done when the Legislature is supposed to, next Monday,” Dayton said.

The governor added that if negotiations began to include policy issues the sides would struggle to reach an agreement by June 30, when Fiscal Year 2017 ends. If the Legislature and governor don’t reach a budget agreement by that date state government would shut down. 

 

'Half-and-half, meet halfway'

Dayton offered $400 million in tax cuts Tuesday. Republicans countered later in the day by dropping their proposed tax cuts from $1 billion to $875 million and boosted their K-12 education spending by more than $100 million.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt and other Republican leaders speak with the media after breaking from a May 17 afternoon meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton as they continue to work toward a budget agreement. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Budget negotiations between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders changed directions Wednesday evening with a “Meet Half Way” offer from the administration that 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.

“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.”

The sides were tentatively scheduled to meet again at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Dayton met with legislative leaders Wednesday morning and again after lunch to dig into details of the health and human services and tax proposals. Participants described those meetings as “vigorous” and “meaningful.”

But the governor also said Republicans were making a number of assumptions in the reductions they proposed, calling it a “simplistic” approach that would result in “real cuts to real programs and real people.”

He also renewed his objection to the policy provisions contained in the budget bills

“I continue to say, if we focus on the numbers in the budget then I’m optimistic we’ll get done when the Legislature is supposed to, next Monday,” Dayton said.

The governor added that if negotiations began to include policy issues the sides would struggle to reach an agreement by June 30, when Fiscal Year 2017 ends. If the Legislature and governor don’t reach a budget agreement by that date state government would shut down. 

Dayton offered $400 million in tax cuts Tuesday. Republicans countered later in the day by dropping their proposed tax cuts from $1 billion to $875 million and boosted their K-12 education spending by more than $100 million.

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