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GOP legislative leaders optimistic after ‘roadmap’ meeting with Dayton

GOP legislative leaders say they had a “very productive” meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton at his residence Friday and presented him with a month-long plan to hold more meetings.

“It’s a roadmap between now and, hopefully, an agreement,” House Majority Leader Matt Dean said afterward under the carport of the governor’s St. Paul residence.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel said the meeting was “short on some of the substance” of how lawmakers and Dayton expect to close Minnesota’s $5 billion deficit — a problem that has plagued them since January.

“There’s a lot more to do,” Michel said. “This is going to be a very busy June, but this is an important first step.”

Coming out of the scheduling meeting, Dayton said he was more optimistic than he has been previously that budget negotiations could avert a partial government shutdown on July 1.

State Sen. Geoff Michel
State Sen. Geoff Michel

Much as they did at the end of session in May, Dayton and GOP leaders will meet multiple times a week in June. His commissioners and legislative committee chairs will also be available to discuss individual budget bills.

Education is first on the docket for Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said they worked this morning on a “framework, a roadmap, a schedule” but did not discuss any new revenue to bolster the GOP’s $34 billion budget proposal.

“He’s going to continue to push us on that,” Koch said.

The Republicans unsurprisingly remained firm that they wouldn’t raise taxes or spend more than what’s in the state’s coffers. That makes the prospects for further progress dim, especially since Dayton says he’s already compromised as much as he’s willing to.

“Even though the money is the question,” said House Speaker Kurt Zellers, referring to the more than $1 billion difference between the GOP’s plan and Dayton’s, the speaker said a significant amount of policy discussions must also continue if any agreement is to be reached.

Today’s meeting between Dayton and the GOP chairs came a day after each side hammered each other separately over the budget, and after the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy convened for the first time this year.

While significantly more cordial than Thursday’s dueling sound bites and talk of potential subpoenas for Dayton commissioners — Michel expressed his “relentless optimism” — there were some harsh words from the governor after the meeting.

Gov. Mark Dayton
Gov. Mark Dayton

Dayton — for the third time, he says — requested that GOP leaders provide a proposal that would meet him halfway. Dayton, who released his “halfway point” weeks ago, hopes to get that plan by Monday.

But the GOP lawmakers, who spoke before Dayton came out of his home to address the press, didn’t make any mention of the request, or their willingness to comply.

If Republicans aren’t willing to meet the Monday deadline, “then that timetable, all of those meetings are just for show,” Dayton said. “It’s impossible to reach an agreement if they’re just going to stand on $34 billion.”

The GOP leaders are seeking a special session for the last week of June, but Dayton said, “I won’t call them back until we have an agreement.”

He didn’t seem perturbed by the public relations war raging over whose fault a shutdown would be. The governor reiterated his talking points and said that Republicans attempting to “misrepresent” his budget and tax plans “know they’re on thin ice.”

With a partial shutdown becoming more likely, the GOP leaders were questioned about a “lights-on” package that would avert the most drastic effects of a government closure.

“We’re open to multiple scenarios and options,” Michel said. “We don’t want to back ourselves into a corner.”

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/03/2011 - 02:01 pm.

    “GOP legislative leaders say they had a “very productive” meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton at his residence Friday and presented him with a month-long plan to hold more meetings.”

    Holy cow. This reads like it came straight out of the “Onion.” Seriously? The GOP “leaders” met with the governor with a plan to HOLD MORE MEETINGS?!? Seriously, guys, we don’t HAVE a month for more meetings. “Everyone has to tighten their belts a little”–quit saying that when you mean that you want the governor/DFL/non-rich Minnesotans to tighten their belts so much as to cut off their own legs. Your turn. Suck it up and allow the richest to pay their fair share. Yes, it would be fair for the richest Minnesotans to pay at least the same percent of their income in taxes as the middle class!! If you want to use them to spur jobs, offer tax credits for ACTUALLY CREATING JOBS. Egad, *I* never got rewarded for anything I *might* do. The whole concept is very un-Minnesotan.

  2. Submitted by will lynott on 06/03/2011 - 02:04 pm.

    Michel doesn’t want to back himself into a corner?

    Don’t look now, Geoff, but that’s exactly where you are. How’s the paint holding out?

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/03/2011 - 02:44 pm.

    Spoken in true “corporate speak”:

    “successful meeting” = “more meetings”

    No surprise, Michel is an attorney, and works as a corporate counsel for Securian Financial Group.

    Billable hours, baby, billable hours!!

  4. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 06/03/2011 - 03:39 pm.

    “We’re open to multiple scenarios and options,” Michel said. “We don’t want to back ourselves into a corner.”

    Uh… I think you already did that. It’ll be a long time before the paint dries and you can get out of there, so I hope you can hold it until then.

  5. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2011 - 03:47 pm.

    Time table for more meetings… this what government run like: “The Office” looks like.

    It’s clear that Republicans just don’t get it. If Dayton has any sense at all he’ll spend the weekend hammering home what a complete government shut down is gonna look like. And what Minnesota under the Republican budget would look like.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 06/03/2011 - 05:40 pm.

    This no new taxes thing is just absolutely absurd. When they end there will have been 10 long years of the Bush tax cuts. It hasn’t created any measurable jobs. I’m sure some of our Minnesota elite have benefited from those tax cuts with zero in return. Lets start taxing the way we should and quit protecting those who are not providing any benefit beyond the special few. It is the biggest red herring in politics, perpetuated by the Republicans, that we have to protect the elite. The only reason they want to protect the elite is so they will have money to run their next campaign. If they have to institute new taxes to get the state back on good footing put a hard sunset date on the new taxes so they will automatically expire. The politicians didn’t finish their job during the regular session now it is time stop their per diem payments. Why should we, the tax payer, continue to pay for non-performance. They are our employees, we set the expectations, we stop the payments. We are not going to get political corruption out of the system until we stand up and insist they change the way the politics are done. Term limits would definitely stop the professional politician syndrome.

  7. Submitted by craig furguson on 06/03/2011 - 06:54 pm.

    The trouble for the GOP is that they have to many people at the microphone. Who are all these people?

  8. Submitted by John Olson on 06/03/2011 - 09:09 pm.

    Paul, again….the Governor does not know. The courts are going to have to decide what is essential versus nonessential services.

    We already have enough politicians who have set their Blackberrys to “maximum spin.” I don’t think this Governor is going to try and pile on the misery for sport.

    I do think the state will be shut for two weeks. It will force an estimated total of $50 million paid out to laid off state employees for unused sick pay and vacation. Once that happens, and this is settled, most will come back and have no sick leave or vacation accrued.

    The Tea Biscuits are frothing at the mouth for a shutdown. I believe they will get their wish.

    Too bad the budget isn’t based on the calendar year–we could have hoped for a New Year’s Day blizzard and no MnDOT snowplows.

  9. Submitted by craig furguson on 06/04/2011 - 06:46 pm.

    do more meetings lead to efficiency? seems weird.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/05/2011 - 12:00 pm.


    I realize the governor doesn’t know what the courts will decide, but he does know what services the state provides, and he is does have a good idea which services will be essential. For instance he knows that all road construction will stop, they’ve already notified all of the outside contractors that as of July 1 all work and payments will stop. The governor also knows what his commissioners are telling him about anticipated skeleton workforces. He has plenty so say if he chooses to.

  11. Submitted by John Olson on 06/05/2011 - 07:39 pm.

    Paul, the commissioners do not know yet what their skeleton workforces might look like. Therefore, they cannot predict what services might look like.

    Of course the governor has plenty to say–if he wants to. Why should he say anything since the Republicans are doing a splendid job of digging themselves in deeper?

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/06/2011 - 08:28 am.

    //Why should he say anything since the Republicans are doing a splendid job of digging themselves in deeper?

    It’s called politics John. Democrats are traditionally lousy at framing debates and establishing focus. You’re comment perfectly exemplifies a Democratic strategy that only works when the Republican screw up. This creates a political landscape whereby people never vote FOR Democrats they just vote against Republicans every so often when they self destruct. You have to provide a clear and coherent alternative vision, and you can start by pointing out what government does, and what it will not do when it shuts down. The Democratic strategy of waiting for Republican self destruct cycles has warped the political landscape, and strengthened right wing extremists. This is how Democrats consistently snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

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