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Reality Check: ’99.5 Percent Agreement’ On Budget Bill?

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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Minnesota Government Shutdown

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — In the two weeks since Minnesota’s shutdown began, Republican House and Senate leaders have called five times for Gov. Mark Dayton to call a special session. They say the shutdown is “completely unnecessary” because there’s agreement on almost every aspect of the major budget bill.

They say they are so close that they could quickly pass them and get laid off state workers back on the job.

“We are within less than 1/2 of 1 percent within the governor on these funding bills to bring 16,000 people back to work,” said MN House Majority Leader Matt Dean, of Stillwater. “That is to say, 99.5 percent in agreement.”

But it’s NOT TRUE.

There’s no agreement on any single budget bill, and the ones on which they might be close contain “poison pills” that Dayton says he won’t accept.

Republicans say there’s 100 percent agreement on spending, but that’s MISLEADING.

According to Dayton, the two sides are $128 million apart, and that’s just the money stuff.

Dayton says he objects to underfunding special education, eliminating integration aid and early childhood programs.

Also, he says he won’t accept school vouchers and collective bargaining restrictions for teachers that are contained in the bill.

And that’s NOT THE WHOLE STORY.

Dayton says he won’t sign other budget bills that also contain provisions: Cutting the state workforce 15 percent by 2015 (4,800 workers), a GOP ban on stem cell research and budget cuts to metro area transit.

Add up the numbers, and Dayton says the two sides are $1.4 billion apart, which is roughly the amount of money he’s trying to raise through higher taxes or other revenue — not close to the agreement Republicans claim.

Dayton vows he won’t agree to any one bill until he agrees to all of them.

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