Republican lawmakers report little progress in budget talks

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

Republican leaders left the Governor’s Office this morning (Saturday, May 21) after about a 30-minute meeting with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton reporting no break-through in budget talks.

“I don’t think there was a lot of movement in this meeting — very little,” said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo.

A key sticking point between Republicans and the governor is revenue. Dayton, willing to make budget cuts, is looking for $1.8 billion in additional revenue.

Yesterday, the governor said he would not “cave” on this demand.

Republicans refuse to raise additional taxes, and insist on “living within their means” on $34 billion in spending.

Outside the Governor’s Office, Republicans expressed disappointment that the governor had not reacted to their omnibus K-12 finance bill.

Even a veto with a veto letter would have be helpful, they explained.

“We are very close on the numbers,” said Koch. “That’s forty percent of the budget,” she said of the K-12 bill.

But Dayton has indicated an unwillingness to make final negotiations on the omnibus budget bills, all now having been delivered to his office, without first achieving an overall budget agreement.

Republican leaders say they’ll meet with the governor again this afternoon. “We’ll keep working until midnight Monday,” said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina.

Monday is the last day of the regular legislative session.

This morning the governor attended a charity walk at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria prior to his meeting with the Republican leaders.

On Sunday he is scheduled to attend a National Guard Red Bulls’ departure ceremony at Ft. Snelling late morning.

But Dayton said yesterday he’s willing to meet with Republicans all weekend.

One closely watched piece of legislation, a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, has not yet come for a vote in the House.

Both advocates and opponents have crowded the sweltering Capitol corridors in recent days and nights to demonstrate.

The Senate has already passed the controversial legislation.

Although Dayton has condemned the proposed amendment and believes it will be rejected by voters at the polls in 2012, governors cannot veto proposed constitutional amendments.

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