MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota budget talks are at a standstill Thursday evening.
State lawmakers cannot agree on how to fund the government for the next two years.
The stalemate comes with just four days to go in the legislative session, raising questions about whether they can finish their work on time.
It is to the point where Republicans and Democrats are “branding” their budget negotiations.
Gov. Mark Dayton made a meet-halfway offer Wednesday night, but Republicans responded with a ball-is-in-your-court offer.
Despite meeting every day this week, official negotiations are off now, none are scheduled and top leaders are not talking.
Management and Budget Director Myron Frans says the governor’s last and best offer meets Republicans “at the 50-yard line,” but the GOP has not moved out of the endzone.
“We’re at an impasse,” Frans said. “We made an offer to meet halfway, and we haven’t been met halfway, and so that’s why we’re at an impasse right now.”
Gov. Dayton is hoping to spend more money for early education and human services. Republicans want a smaller budget and cash for tax cuts.
Republican Rep. Jim Knoblach, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, commandeered the governor’s cabinet room, complaining to reporters that Dayton’s definition of “halfway” is more like 70-30.
“It’s fake mid-point math!” Knoblach said. “It’s not half! It’s nowhere close to half! This isn’t the halfway budget!”
Even as budget talks are silent, Dayton signed into law a Real ID bill that creates new, high-security driver’s licenses.
Republicans denounced the veto as a “slap in the face” to struggling rural schools.
“What’s really happening here is he’s hurting rural districts more than he’s hurting suburban districts,” said Republican Sen. Eric Pratt. “And we gave him a very non-partisan bill that’s being vetoed on very partisan reasons.”
Republicans and Democrats are as far apart on the budget Thursday night as they have ever been.
But the tone is civil, unlike past years — leaving open the possibility of a smooth landing in the very few days left in the 2017 session.