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Dayton gives lawmakers deadline on budget work

ST. PAUL -- What Gov. Mark Dayton sees as lack of progress in completing a two-year budget leaves him upset.

With 27 days left in the 2010 legislative session, Dayton gave lawmakers a May 6 deadline to pass all budget bills and send them to him. If that unenforceable deadline is not met, he said that he would be less optimistic that work can be finished by the Legislature's May 23 constitutional deadline to adjourn.

The Democratic governor said that so far, Republican legislative leadership "resisted the requirement that they develop an honest and balanced budget."

It was his strongest criticism yet.

Dayton said the GOP budget plans fall $1 billion short of the $34 billion they want to spend in the next two years.

"They have made one excuse after another," Dayton said.

The governor complained that few budget negotiation sessions are planned for this week to work out differences between budget bills the House and Senate already passed.

It is lawmakers' job to produce a budget before he begins negotiating with them, he said. "I'm not going to wade into their swamp and chose between their alligator and their crocodile."

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