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No deal yet, but Gov. Dayton and legislators are still talking

Fate of the stadium bill appears to rest on working out a compromise on the GOP’s top priority, a business tax package.

Governor Dayton speaks with press after negotiations with GOP leaders.

After a meeting of nearly two hours with legislative leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton stepped from his office and announced, well, nothing.

Most of this afternoon’s meeting centered on the business tax package that Republican leaders are pushing in exchange for the stadium that the governor wants.

But Dayton, who appeared resigned, apparently is not going to budge on the tax deal, at least the most recent one he saw.

The deal, which would freeze business property taxes, would be “fiscally irresponsible,” in Dayton’s view.  He said he and his administration will look closely at the proposal and would come up with a counter-offer sometime late this afternoon or early evening.

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“We’ve defined our differences,” said Dayton of the meeting with House and Senate leaders.

There was little talk of the other two major issues, bonding and the stadium, that also await action — or not — before this session ends.

The question: Will either Republicans or the governor blink?

Not even GOP caucus members were willing to guess about where this is all headed.

“I thought the governor wanted a stadium more than this,” said Rep. Greg Davids, who is chairman of the House Taxes Committee but was not part of the meeting with Dayton and legislative leaders.

If the tax bill is the fulcrum on which a Vikings’ stadium is balanced, it would appear that the stadium is very much in doubt.

Already, there are members of both caucuses in both chambers saying the best thing the Legislature can do at this point is quit and go home. That would mean, of course, no tax bill, no bonding bill and no stadium.

For his part, Dayton hopes legislators don’t just throw in the towel on this session and that they don’t pay any attention to an earlier goal of House Speaker Kurt Zellers to end the session before May 1.

“I’d encourage them to stay as long as they can to get this resolved,” Dayton said.

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The governor talked of compromise and insisted he’s willing to meeting Republicans “halfway” on a tax bill.

But earlier in the day, the governor also had said his administration will work to come up with a broad-based tax reform plan for the state, which is something Republicans and DFLers have long claimed they desire.

Dayton said this morning he “would have a a problem singling out one group” for reform, meaning the Main Street businesses GOP leaders say would be helped by their tax deal.

Mostly the Capitol was filled with speculation about what will unfold in the coming days. At least some legislators — of both caucuses — believe a recess should be called until leaders can achieve “a global arrangement” on the big three remaining tasks.