Maybe, just maybe, there was a slight shift in Republican thinking shown today. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a glimmer of hope that a budget settlement can be reached before the July 1 shutdown.
Here’s the deal: House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Geoff Michel met very briefly with the reporters to ostensibly talk about Gov. Mark Dayton’s far-reaching shutdown plan that was released this morning.
But the two didn’t really talk about that plan.
Instead, Zellers said “we’re focused on the budget.” He said that the priority for the moment is getting a deal done before a July 1 shutdown.
Michel said that at this point, Republicans don’t “have a plan” at the moment for how they will respond to the governor’s proposal. That response, he indicated, will be more thoroughly discussed at a Thursday meeting of the Senate Rules Committee.
But here’s where the glimmer of hope may be.
A reporter asked Zellers if Republicans were absolutely steadfast on holding to a $34 billion budget, meaning no new revenues. That has been the Republican position to date.
But this morning, Zellers sounded a little cagey in responding to the $34 billion number.
“We’re not going to vote for a tax increase,” he said.
Does that mean the Republicans could change their $34 billion bottom line?
“No tax increase,” Zellers repeated.
That stand, of course, appears to open the door to other revenue possibilities, ranging from new fees to proceeds from such things as racinos.