Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

Minnesota leaders hope for Monday budget session start

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Capitol remained closed to the public Friday, two weeks after a government shutdown began, but it was busy with legislative committee chairmen, Dayton administration commissioners and staffers hammering out last-minute details to put government back to work.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facing a Friday night deadline, those involved in nine budget bills looked over spreadsheets and piles of papers as they eliminated controversial policy provisions while making sure spending matched what Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders want in the bills.

If all goes well this weekend, and there were signs of problems, Dayton planned to call lawmakers into a special session Monday to begin wrapping up budget work.

The session could last anywhere from one long day to a full week, depending on whether Democratic-Farmer-Laborite lawmakers join Republicans and vote to suspend rules that require bills to be heard on three different days in the House and Senate.

Once those bills pass and Dayton signs them, 22,000 state employees may return to work and Minnesotans may resume using services they provide.

The budget bills fund everything except agriculture programs, which already received their money.

Lawmakers from both sides expressed doubt about the budget deal. While many Democrats said they would vote against the bills, many Republicans said they needed more information before deciding how they would vote.

As all year, Friday's negotiations featured disputes.

Chairman Mike Parry, R-Waseca, of the Senate state government committee said his meeting with a Dayton aide lasted eight minutes, ending when the senator demanded to know what policies the governor would allow to remain in the bill funding many areas of state government.

Part of the budget deal announced Thursday was to remove policy items not related to the budget from spending bills. But, Parry said, he thought only controversial social issues would be removed while government reform provisions could remain.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said that he does not plan to vote for what he calls "a borrowing plan." Democrats generally supported Dayton's plan to increase taxes on the richest Minnesotans to allow many state programs to receive more funding than Republican-passed budget bills contained.

Instead of $1.4 billion in tax increases that Dayton wanted, the deal calls for delaying state payments to schools and borrowing from future payments from a lawsuit the state won against tobacco companies.

Dayton said the agreement he reached with Republican legislative leaders Thursday afternoon gave him everything he wanted other than raising revenue by taxing the rich.

"They were not going to agree to that," Dayton said on Minnesota Public Radio, so he accepted the Republican plan to borrow $1.4 billion.

Overall, Dayton said, "I feel very good about the result."

As budget negotiators worked behind closed doors, some preliminary information surfaced.

For instance, it appeared that state aid paid to cities would remain at 2010 levels, better than GOP proposals that would have cut it. Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis likely will keep their aid, instead of it being eliminated as Republicans wanted.

While most bills were to be wrapped up late Friday, one funding $500 million in public works construction projects could still be in process later this weekend. Dayton wants the so-called bonding bill, but it was not clear if that definitely will be part of a special session.

Once budget bills are finished, they are to be posted on legislative committee Web sites (www.leg.state.mn.us).

The deal Dayton and Republicans made includes:

E Delaying state payments to schools to provide $700 million more spending. That is on top of an existing payment delay, forcing many districts to borrow money to keep operating.

E Borrowing against future tobacco lawsuit payments, providing another $700 million.

E Dropping a Republican plan to reduce state workforce 15 percent, one of the GOP's main ways to cut down state government.

E Removing all policy items not related to the budget from spending bills, such as requiring voters to present photo identification, banning human cloning and restricting abortions.

The Thursday deal was based on a Republican budget offer given Dayton on June 30. It basically replaced Dayton's tax increase on top Minnesota earners with the plan to borrow from schools and tobacco funds.

Legislators left St. Paul on May 23, their constitutional adjournment deadline. Dayton vetoed most of their spending bills the day later, saying the state needs more money than the Republicans provided.

Republicans, meanwhile, demanded to hold spending at $34 billion for the next two years. In the end, they agreed to spending $1.4 billion more than that, but without a tax increase.

While work progressed on the budget, a Ramsey County judge continued to rule what money could be spent even without a budget in place. She ruled on Friday that the Thief River Falls Airport could continue what it considered emergency repairs.

Also allowed to get funding were Health Department operations to address reports of alleged maltreatment in places such as nursing homes and money will continue to be spent at many battered and abused women's shelters.

The judge said loggers cannot continue to remove timber from state lands, but also scheduled a Monday hearing on the issue.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Capitol remained closed to the public Friday, two weeks after a government shutdown began, but it was busy with legislative committee chairmen, Dayton administration commissioners and staffers hammering out last-minute details to put government back to work.

Facing a Friday night deadline, those involved in nine budget bills looked over spreadsheets and piles of papers as they eliminated controversial policy provisions while making sure spending matched what Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders want in the bills.

If all goes well this weekend, and there were signs of problems, Dayton planned to call lawmakers into a special session Monday to begin wrapping up budget work.

The session could last anywhere from one long day to a full week, depending on whether Democratic-Farmer-Laborite lawmakers join Republicans and vote to suspend rules that require bills to be heard on three different days in the House and Senate.

Once those bills pass and Dayton signs them, 22,000 state employees may return to work and Minnesotans may resume using services they provide.

The budget bills fund everything except agriculture programs, which already received their money.

Lawmakers from both sides expressed doubt about the budget deal. While many Democrats said they would vote against the bills, many Republicans said they needed more information before deciding how they would vote.

As all year, Friday's negotiations featured disputes.

Chairman Mike Parry, R-Waseca, of the Senate state government committee said his meeting with a Dayton aide lasted eight minutes, ending when the senator demanded to know what policies the governor would allow to remain in the bill funding many areas of state government.

Part of the budget deal announced Thursday was to remove policy items not related to the budget from spending bills. But, Parry said, he thought only controversial social issues would be removed while government reform provisions could remain.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said that he does not plan to vote for what he calls "a borrowing plan." Democrats generally supported Dayton's plan to increase taxes on the richest Minnesotans to allow many state programs to receive more funding than Republican-passed budget bills contained.

Instead of $1.4 billion in tax increases that Dayton wanted, the deal calls for delaying state payments to schools and borrowing from future payments from a lawsuit the state won against tobacco companies.

Dayton said the agreement he reached with Republican legislative leaders Thursday afternoon gave him everything he wanted other than raising revenue by taxing the rich.

"They were not going to agree to that," Dayton said on Minnesota Public Radio, so he accepted the Republican plan to borrow $1.4 billion.

Overall, Dayton said, "I feel very good about the result."

As budget negotiators worked behind closed doors, some preliminary information surfaced.

For instance, it appeared that state aid paid to cities would remain at 2010 levels, better than GOP proposals that would have cut it. Duluth, St. Paul and Minneapolis likely will keep their aid, instead of it being eliminated as Republicans wanted.

While most bills were to be wrapped up late Friday, one funding $500 million in public works construction projects could still be in process later this weekend. Dayton wants the so-called bonding bill, but it was not clear if that definitely will be part of a special session.

Once budget bills are finished, they are to be posted on legislative committee Web sites (www.leg.state.mn.us).

The deal Dayton and Republicans made includes:

- Delaying state payments to schools to provide $700 million more spending. That is on top of an existing payment delay, forcing many districts to borrow money to keep operating.

- Borrowing against future tobacco lawsuit payments, providing another $700 million.

- Dropping a Republican plan to reduce state workforce 15 percent, one of the GOP's main ways to cut down state government.

- Removing all policy items not related to the budget from spending bills, such as requiring voters to present photo identification, banning human cloning and restricting abortions.

The Thursday deal was based on a Republican budget offer given Dayton on June 30. It basically replaced Dayton's tax increase on top Minnesota earners with the plan to borrow from schools and tobacco funds.

Legislators left St. Paul on May 23, their constitutional adjournment deadline. Dayton vetoed most of their spending bills the day later, saying the state needs more money than the Republicans provided.

Republicans, meanwhile, demanded to hold spending at $34 billion for the next two years. In the end, they agreed to spending $1.4 billion more than that, but without a tax increase.

While work progressed on the budget, a Ramsey County judge continued to rule what money could be spent even without a budget in place. She ruled on Friday that the Thief River Falls Airport could continue what it considered emergency repairs.

Also allowed to get funding were Health Department operations to address reports of alleged maltreatment in places such as nursing homes and money will continue to be spent at many battered and abused women's shelters.

The judge said loggers cannot continue to remove timber from state lands, but also scheduled a Monday hearing on the issue.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness