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Minnesota Legislature

Dayton: transportation compromise in the works for Monday

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, right to left, House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, Sen. Katie Sieben, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and Gov. Mark Dayton gather May 12 to talk about end of session matters. Photo by Paul Battaglia

A compromise transportation plan is in the works for Monday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced after a closed-door meeting with Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) and House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) Thursday afternoon.

“The clock is ticking,” Dayton said, with less than 11 days left until the statutory end of session May 23. Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls) and Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing), co-chairs of the transportation conference committee, will also be involved in weekend discussions, Dayton said, and the resulting proposal will be a “true compromise.”

“It’s going to have to involve elements that each side is not willing to accept at this point, but that’s the nature of compromise,” Dayton said.

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The House’s latest transportation offer Wednesday showed little movement toward a compromise position with the Senate, continuing to rely heavily on a shift of motor vehicle-related sales tax revenues from the state’s General Fund toward road and bridge projects, as well as using one-time dollars from the state’s projected $900 million budget surplus.

Legislative leaders have said that an agreement needs to be reached on transportation before any other budget targets can be set, Dayton said.

“The governor has been showing great leadership in trying to bring the two sides together,” Bakk said. “We made a serious offer and a serious move last Friday on transportation, and when the House responded this week, they basically repackaged their original transportation bill. We were very disappointed by that.”

Dayton declined to comment on the specifics of the working proposal, but said his goal was to present something on Monday “that’s going to bring everyone together.” If nothing else, Thursday’s meeting seemed to give all parties hope they can find common ground.

“We talked mostly about fishing,” Daudt said with a laugh, as he rushed to return to the House Floor session after the leadership meeting. “Actually, our meetings are going very well. Obviously, we haven’t made a ton of progress yet, but we all feel optimistic.”

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