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GOP offers Step 1 to resolve budget impasse, but DFL leaders want to see Step 2

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has made one thing clear to DFL leaders as they try to close the state’s budget gaps: No.

“He’s told us a number of things are off the table,” House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said in a conference call with reporters this morning. “No taxes, no fees, no gambling.”

That seems to pretty much cover the waterfront.

So what’s left?

DFL leaders have made an offer to minority leaders in the House and the Senate to come up with a solution that would both balance the budget and come up with a way to pay back the $2.7 billion in K-12 shifts that the governor has used to help balance the budget. (Under the governor’s plan, the money is shifted, but there’s no plan for re-paying those school funds.)

In fact, Rep. Kurt Zellers, the House minority leader, and other Republicans have approached DFL leadership with step one of a plan, Kelliher said. Their proposal: Pay back K-12 by making $340 million per biennium of the governor’s unallotment cuts from last spring permanent.

Sounds easy, right?

The problem is the Republicans haven’t been specific about which unallotments would be made permanent.

“They want us to agree to Step One before they reveal Step Two,” said Kelliher.

She sounded dubious but said that DFLers are making budget staff available to the Republicans to see what they can come up with.

“All options are on the table,” Kelliher said.

She said that at least a few Republicans have hinted they might be willing to support an increase in taxes or fees on alcohol. And leaders from both sides of the aisle are trying to find some middle ground by floating other ideas.

For her part, Kelliher, the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor, is passing up the fishing opener this weekend, though she’s quick to add, “I love to fish.” (Most Minnesota pols say they love to fish.)

If Pawlenty takes part in the traditional governor’s opener, she suggests that “he should make it a short trip.”

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Comments (1)

Good one, MAK.

But if I were giving T-Paw advice on what to do on the fishing opener, I'd tell him to go jump in a lake! :)

But then again, I'd tell him to do that every single day, which is why I'm not in politics (I lack a self-censoring mechanism).