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Legislature to move forward with budget bills — without governor's agreement

By Ricky Campbell
Flanked by other Republican leaders, House Speaker Kurt Daudt speaks to the media about a new series of budget bills that will be considered before the constitutional end of session Monday. Photo by Paul Battaglia

The Legislature will move ahead with passing renewed budget bills, Republican leaders announced Friday, hoping to wade through the arduous task of assembling conference committees, approving reports, negotiating with the administration and passing finalized legislation before the constitutionally mandated deadline of midnight on Monday.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) released new spending targets they called “real compromise” positions with Gov. Mark Dayton — numbers the governor hasn’t publicly agreed to — that spend less on tax incentives and more on areas like health care and state government.

“We’re asking the governor to finish up with us on time,” Gazelka said at a Friday afternoon news conference.

The new Republican budget targets, compared to their previous positions, include increasing:

  • health and human services spending by $246.59 million to a $258.4 million reduction over current levels;
  • E-12 spending by $163.5 million to $467 million;
  • state government spending by $100 million to $40 million;
  • judiciary and public safety spending by $79 million to $164 million over previous proposals; and
  • reducing spending on tax breaks from $1.12 billion to $660 million;

“We have moved our positions pretty significantly,” Daudt said.

Dayton’s latest public proposal, the so-called “Meet Half Way,” separated courts and cybersecurity spending from the state’s projected $1.5 billion surplus, leaving $1.36 billion to be split halfway between taxes and transportation, and the remaining budget bills. The governor and legislators broke from the negotiating table earlier Friday when Dayton had to leave for a funeral, his staff said.

The Legislature passed all of its budget bills before, but had the governor veto every one. The difference this time, Daudt said, is that they’ve heeded some of Dayton’s concerns and have made additional concessions.

“This represents what we think is real, true compromise,” Daudt said. “I think the governor will see that, he’ll understand that, he’ll appreciate that. We still very sincerely want him engaged over the next three days to help us with an agreement that will earn his signature.” 

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