No Budget Deal With Legislature As Last Day Looms

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The next-to-last day of Minnesota’s legislative session trickled away Sunday with no evident movement on a budget impasse between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders.

The two sides are about $1.8 billion apart in how to resolve a $5 billion deficit, and if they don’t strike a deal by midnight Monday, a special session would be necessary to avert a government shutdown later this summer.

“Nothing to report big at this point, but discussions are continuing,” said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, after leaving an hour-long meeting with Dayton and other legislative leaders in his office.

Republicans passed a set of budget bills that total $34 billion in spending; the Democratic governor wants to supplement that with another $1.8 billion in new revenue in order to avoid some of the steepest cuts and reductions to social services, state aid to cities and counties and spending on state colleges and universities.

Dayton suggested the extra revenue come from an income tax increase for those in the state’s highest bracket of earners, but has said he’s open to other ways of raising state revenue. Earlier in the week the governor halved the amount of new revenue he’d like to see, but Republicans have refused to budge from the $34 billion figure.

“If we raise taxes during this economic recovery, we’ll squelch whatever growth we had and we’ll be right back where we were for the next two years,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove.

Zellers said he and other Republican leaders were willing to work day and night with Dayton to reach an agreement. But there seemed little urgency to their meetings: when Zellers, Koch and their colleagues left Dayton’s office about 3 p.m., they said they’d probably meet again later in the day. But by 9:30 p.m. no further meetings had taken place and Dayton’s spokeswoman said another meeting wasn’t likely Sunday night.

Dayton had not appeared from behind closed doors by late afternoon. He stayed in his office meeting with Republican chairs of various legislative finance committees to discuss concerns he had with their budget bills, but reports from inside those meetings brought no further hints of progress.

“The governor repeated what he’s been saying, that he wants to solve the budget with a global solution,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, the chairman of the House Higher Education Finance Committee, after meeting with Dayton. “That didn’t leave us with much else to talk about. I’m not sure the governor’s been very clear, besides saying he wants a tax increase, about what might be some other ways of solving this thing.”

Both the House and Senate were meeting in late afternoon floor sessions to work on policy bills. The night before, the House passed a constitutional amendment that will go to voters in 2012 asking whether they want to define marriage in the state constitution as between a man and a woman only.

Another issue that got a lot of attention at the Capitol in recent weeks, the push by the Minnesota Vikings to secure partial taxpayer financing for a new football stadium, had little heat around it in the final days. It also appeared destined to be the subject of continued negotiations before and during a special session.

If midnight Monday hits without a budget deal, only Dayton can call lawmakers back for a special session. But whenever he does, lawmakers can stay in session as long as they want.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Joe Hanson

    Shut it down Governor Dayton! Show the Republicans who runs this State.

  • Dave Campbell

    It’s sure not looking good for a vikings stadium bill! I doubt seriously it will be included in a special session!

  • Robert Radke

    A new stadium is nothing more than corporate welfare while the working poor take hit after hit!!

  • No charity for Wilf

    We need to pay for a stadium like we need to add another $5 billion to the state deficit.

    Move on Wilf!

  • Fulltime employee

    Get it completed in the regular session or be prepared to be voted out.

    • Agree

      I agree – this session is a joke

  • Cache

    Dayton, is big ignorant arrogant baby who needs to grow up, is part of the problem; not part of the solution. This state in in trouble fiscally. It has been spending money like a drunken sailor. My apologies to all drunken sailors, but at least a drunken sailor has the wherewithal to stop spending when he runs out of money, but not the state; it just keeps spending, by stealing more and more from taxpayers (who they think are the golden goose) or it gets out the credit card and keeps running up the bill. The problem is that the golden goose is being strangled. We do not need to spend money for Billionaires and millionaires to reap more $$$ while we taxpayers keep going backwards!

  • kevin

    Cache, I agree with you. Our house and senate are sending the gov. budget bills which Dayton won’t sign or he will veto because they do not contain a raise in taxes. Dayton needs to grow up and realize that the well is dry.

  • no tax increases

    Dayton forgets that even a couple that is in the “high income” bracket has bills. Our combined student loans are $40k per year for well over 10 more years paid in after tax income. After essentials, kid stuff, house payment, no extras, no cable tv, no car payments, no cc payments, there isn’t anything left. We paid over 120,000 in state and federal taxes to get demonized but drive 11 year old cars. Some people don’t just wake up to huge bank accounts and actually have to start from scratch to become producers.

    • Bubba

      40K a year in student loans? for 10 or more years. Sorry no tax man if I have no sympathy for you as it would appear that you are either in the medical profession or chose to live on student loans while going to school. Either way, you chose it.

    • No cable OMG

      Does your tax break along with all your financial problems employee anyone as we understand such a tax break does? On 40,000 a year (your student loan payment) I can spend beyond what I can pay for. I guess that is true under any income so it seems. We all have to do our part. It bothers me a lot to see those who live in 1/2 million dollar homes in neighborhoods off limits to most having to struggle to pay for their cable —



  • James

    Don’t worry, getting those Gays out of the way will cause God to miraculously cure our budget woes. After all, accounting is difficult but harassment is easy.

  • Bobby redbone

    Racino baby !!! The tribes days of no taxes on profits are done ! And one other thing , would all of the liberal quit crying ? I mean go find a job !!!

    • bob

      You need to either get to work yourself. Racino can’t even get out of a Republican legislature. Perhaps you need a check of your own reality,

  • American

    Let’s see no money so ,either need to get a job in the first place or cut spending or get a second job. Well there are no jobs so, I guess we cut spending. DErr Dayton!

  • Ml

    They could have solved our budget problems and come an agreement if they wouldnt have wasted so much time on gay marriage. I say recall them all (both parties) or vote them all out in the next election. And start docking their pay for everyday they are in a special session.

  • JB

    this probelm was created two years ago when the democrats over rode the then governors veto and spent like there was no tomorrow. Well for many of them there was no next term, but that does not relieve us of the burden they created. Come on Republicans, get with the Governor and get it done. Governor, you going to keep playing chicken with these life time politicians or act like you campaigned and fix this mess?

  • Jill

    There are no jobs now. What will happen to the people soon to be without jobs when the proposed 15% reduction in the state workforce occurs? What about the cost to the state for unemployment that will occur when the employees are are laid off to reduce the workforce?

    • Jeff

      Minnesotas unemploymnet is below the national average and if we are to keep it lower you can’t raise taxes. Its unfortunate some state jobs must go but they are a burden to the states economy. Liken it to laying off the butler and gardener in a household. When times get better you can afford them again.

  • Real world

    Compromise is a word the GOP does not comprehend anymore. Raise taxes on the wealthiest 5% ( many of them want it to happen) and cut the spending. Hmmmm I guess the GOP can see the future and know exactly how to make things work. Just like the Bush administration did….

    Small government is theory and no more. The GOP doesn’t mind cutting programs for the poorest because they don’t contribute to their re-election campaigns.

  • Ruth

    Why can’t we have a special election now to vote ALL of them out of office? They are getting paid a fortune to NOT do the job some people elected them to. Resolving the budget should be about just that – no stadium, gay marriage or other non-essential issues should be on the agenda.

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