Legislature, Gov. Far From Budget Compromise

By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — It’s the last day of the 2011 Minnesota legislative session — or is it?

Just hours away from the midnight deadline, the legislature and the governor are far from a budget compromise.

There’s a disconnect at the Capitol between republicans and democrats. Nothing new there. But republicans say they’re optimistic there will be a budget deal, while Gov. Mark Dayton is talking about a government shutdown.

The republican legislature has already sent a package of budget bills to the governor. They contain significant rollbacks in government spending.

Gov. Dayton insists he won’t sign what he calls “an all cuts budget” and republican leaders are acting like they don’t believe him.

Dayton’s stilll calling for income tax hikes on wealthy, just fewer than he did before.

“A compromise means you agree to things you dont agree with.  They’re not willing to agree to anything that they don’t think is absolutely in line with their perceived mandate,” Dayton said. “Well, I have a mandate, too. I got elected by the people of Minnesota.”

If the new democratic governor and the new republican legislature don’t get their work done, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Talks between the governor and republicans are reported to be cordial. And top GOP leaders still say they are optimistic they “will” reach a deal to end the session on time.

“I continue to not believe that Governor Dayton will not take the state to a shutdown or a special session over a tax increase,” said Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Geoff Michel.

Even though republicans say they are optimistic, the governor says just the opposite — that he is “pessimistic” any deal will be reached.

In fact, he said even though he now has all the republican budget bills on his desk, he’s got until Tuesday to sign or veto. And he won’t act until Tuesday, after the legislature has already adjounred.

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