By the end of the week Governor Mark Dayton may have the first budget bill on his desk. Lawmakers plan to vote Wednesday or Thursday to adopt a conference report that chips away at about a billion dollars of the $6.2 billion dollar budget shortfall. The speed of this bill is surprising many longtime Capitol dwellers. In the 33 minute conference committee, Jim Koppel from the Children’s Defense Fund said about cuts to children’s services “This is going pretty fast and we’re trying to catch up.” The final bill no longer has a state employee pay freeze, asks state agencies to trim a smaller amount of $100 million and cuts Local Government Aid.
Dayton will release his budget solution next week, he has said gambling will not be part of his plan. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be pressure on the issue. Today Running Aces Harness Park announced its campaign “Minnesota’s Budget Jackpot to educate Minnesotans and build support for adding slot machines at Minnesota’s two state–licensed and –regulated gaming facilities.” The group says it can “help solve Minnesota’s budget deficit and support private-sector job growth by permitting slot machines at Running Aces and Canterbury Park.”