Negotiations on the state budget have hit a roadblock, and Republicans Tuesday night passed a number of appropriations bills that Governor Mark Dayton says he’ll veto. House Democratic Minority Leader Melissa Hortman says if Republicans choose conflict rather than collaboration, “we almost certainly send this legislative session into overtime, a special session, and then — who knows? — on the brink of another state government shutdown.” Republican Majority Leader Joyce Peppin says they’ll continue discussions with the governor, but “our job as a legislature is to pass the bills, and then the governor’s job is to decide whether or not he agrees with those bills.” The biggest sticking points are tax cuts, public school funding, human services spending, and money for roads and bridges.
Republicans asked the governor to commit to overall numbers for every major budget category, but Dayton wants to work on the less controversial bills first. “With the signal that he’s not ready for global targets, we move forward,” Senate Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told his colleagues on the Senate floor. Governor Dayton responds on the E-12 education budget for example, “They want me engaged, they got me engaged. I’m not gonna just sign off on some kind of cut on E-12 and say somebody else will figure that out.”
Senate Democratic Minority Leader Tom Bakk says Republicans sending to the governor bills that he’ll veto sets things back three or four days. Bakk says, “I don’t think that’s actually constructive. I think they’d be better to spend the three days in the room with the governor trading offers back and forth.” Bakk says even with the delay, there’s still ample time to agree on the state budget before the May 22nd deadline — but others are not so optimistic.