The Minnesota Legislature is in special session after Governor Mark Dayton and Republicans announced a budget deal 45 minutes before Monday’s midnight deadline. Lawmakers didn’t have time to pass the budget bills before the Constitution required they adjourn, so the Senate and House ended the 2017 regular session just before midnight, then went into special session just after midnight. Lawmakers will spend the morning and afternoon working out details and then start passing budget bills. The goal is to be finished by 7 a-m Wednesday. House Speaker Kurt Daudt says, “We’re optimistic that we’re gonna get this done in the next 36 or so hours.” Daudt says it’s “not likely” the deal will fall apart.
Details of the tentative budget agreement: There’s 660 million dollars in tax cuts, halfway between what the Republicans wanted and what Governor Dayton proposed. There’s 300 million dollars in new funding for roads, bridges and transit. It would come from the existing tax on auto parts and there would be *no* increase in license tab fees. Governor Dayton and Republicans both wanted about 600 million dollars for transportation, but the final number ended up at half that, because Republicans said “no” to a gas tax increase and Dayton said “no” to diverting a larger amount from other state programs.
There would be 477 million dollars in new money for E-12 schools. Republicans would not agree to the governor’s request for funding to expand pre-kindergarten, but he does get 50 million dollars for a new targeted program called School Readiness Plus. Dayton says details are still to be resolved, but the program will accomplish what he wants to see — another pre-K opportunity for Minnesota parents and children.
Details of other bills are still being worked out, including E-12 education, health and human services, and a 990-million-dollar bonding bill for state public works projects. Dayton says about the bonding bill, “This is in my view picking up for what wasn’t accomplished last year. There are some different features to it. I’m hopeful there’ll be another bonding bill next year.”
Governor Mark Dayton says about the budget deal, “We worked very hard. We worked very well together. Obviously we have very real differences, and so there’s been a lot of give-and-take and people giving up what they want, and accepting what they don’t want, but [Republicans] negotiated in good faith.” Dayton says he wanted more money for higher education and E-12 schools, but didn’t expect he’d get everything he wants. Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says the budget deal “wasn’t easy. I think we all knew we had to give up something, which is always what happens, and then you get something. But in the end when that happens, Minnesota wins — and tonight I really believe Minnesota won.” Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt says, “I want to just personally thank the governor and his staff for the work that we’ve done over the course of the last two or three days. I think it really represents true compromise.”
As part of the agreement, Republicans will pass legislation to override Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s family leave ordinances, and prohibit any local government from increasing the minimum wage higher than the statewide hourly level. But they agreed to *not* include it as a rider in any budget bill, meaning Governor Mark Dayton will certainly veto the controversial measure
A ban on drivers licenses for illegal immigrants *is* included in the budget deal. Governor Mark Dayton says he strongly disagrees with it, “but again there were other concessions made to reach a bill that we could all finally agree to, and that’s reality.”
Here’s last night’s press conference by Governor Dayton and legislative leaders: