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Budget negotiations restart

DFL Governor Mark Dayton and Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers returned to budget talks to try to end the government shutdown.  But with Republicans saying they’re still at $34 billion dollars for a total budget number, the governor said it’s the “the same gulf we’ve had all along.”  Dayton used the words “constructive” and “hopeful” after the hour-long meeting behind closed doors.   After an income tax increase failed to gain any traction in negotiatons, the governor is reaching out to moderate lawmakers on other revenue options including tobacco/alcohol taxes and broadening the sales tax.

Republicans passed out a chart showing “tax increases & runaway spending” and renewed their request for the governor to call them back into special session.  “This shutdown is unnecessary, road construction should be going and parks should be open” said Sen. Koch.   “There’s fiscal agreement, not policy agreement” on several bills according to Speaker Zellers.  They want to move along on individual bills and pass a lights-on bill to restart government.  Tomorrow key people in health and human services will meet and K-12 education will be the topic on Thursday as all parties try to end the five day old shutdown.

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