After a stand-still week, negotiations over a new state budget saw the first real progress Tuesday as Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-led Legislature shifted closer on tax cuts and education spending. Few are uttering the dirtiest "s" word in state government yet, but the prospect of another painful shutdown is looming.
Dayton says, "I said it before they made this decision: I said if they're gonna go the route of passing the bills and sending them to me to be vetoed, then I'm not gonna resume negotiations until it's complete".
Inside a week before the mandatory session adjournment, the sides all presented compromises to their prior positions over a two-year budget likely to top $45 billion and maybe reach $46 billion.
"We have felt like it was off the table for some time", Daudt said.
Here's the problem: Republicans are spending nearly all of the $1.6 billion budget surplus on tax cuts, which Democrats say is shortchanging critical state programs, like nursing homes and pre-K education.
Republicans planned to make their own counter-offer later Tuesday afternoon. He chose not to participate and never got seriously engaged.
"It's not where we want to be on that number, but that's a big step", Gazelka said. Dayton has previously proposed a roughly $46 billion budget, while Republicans' proposal clocked in at almost $45 billion. "This legislation places the vast majority of new funding directly into the classroom, invests in proven early learning programs that best serve our state's littlest learners and their families, and includes smart policies that work to narrow our achievement gap, improve student learning, and recruit and retain world-class educators in our schools".