Tentative budget deal clears way for special session

Room 10 of the State of Building
The Minnesota House will meet in Room 10 of the State of Building for the upcoming special session.

There’s a tentative deal to bring lawmakers budget stalemate to an end, and this one might stick.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he and Republicans in control of the Minnesota House of Representatives reached an agreement on all outstanding budget provisions, and that he planned to call a special session as soon as leaders of all four legislative caucuses signed off on the deal.

The final deal will include $5 million as part of the jobs-and-energy budget, which Dayton wanted to help Minnesotans with disabilities find work and help prevent homelessness among those suffering with mental illness. The final deal will also include an electric rate break for mining and forestry industries in northeastern Minnesota, but it will have added “consumer protections,” according to Dayton’s release. 

Leaders also agreed to fix a quirk in state law to allow the city of Rochester to use local sales tax dollars as part of a major expansion of the Mayo Clinic.

In his statement, Dayton said the negotiations have been “extremely difficult,” but that the sign of a true compromise is that no one is happy with the final deal.

“Proponents and opponents of various policies across the political spectrum will be as unhappy with certain features as we, who ultimately had to accept them to avoid another government shutdown, the indefinite layoffs of 9,500 state employees, and severe disruptions of important public services,” he said.

Nailing down the details in the jobs-and-energy budget is the latest agreement, but Dayton and Republicans have been going back and forth on a budget deal for weeks. Dayton vetoed three budget bills, including education and agriculture and the environment, after regular session adjourned on May 18. Last week, leaders announced a deal to spend $525 million out of a $1.8 billion surplus on education over the next two years, but issues remained in other bills, prolonging the negotations. On Monday, Dayton agreed to drop his opposition to one of the biggest sticking points — a provision that allows county governments to go around the state auditor’s office and seek reviews from private firms — clearing the way for the tentative deal. 

Dayton expressed concerns earlier this week about other language in the jobs-and-energy bill that would require people who used alternative energy sources to pay more. But similar language to what the Legislature passed will be included in the final deal, said GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo, the author of the bill.

In an email statement on the deal, House Speaker Kurt Daudt touted the “third lowest percent increase in general fund spending in over 50 years,” holding the line on tax increases and more money for education, aging adults and transportation.

“Minnesotans expect us to come to St. Paul and lead by working together. The House Republican majority’s aim from the beginning was bringing government spending more in line with family budgets. 

But he may have preempted the budget news with a tweet Tuesday night. 

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 06/10/2015 - 10:58 am.

    That’s All Good and Fine, But…..

    While it would be easy to bemoan how we got to this point….again….with our state government, I do have a question: what if the legislature as a body does not play along? It’s all good and fine that the “leaders” came to an agreement, but what if the rank-and-file, the bodies in the chairs, look at these deals and say “no way”. What then?

    I get that nobody really wants to be there and they may just hit the Green Button to pass what ever ends up in front of them so they can carry on, but if the deals are objectionable to their ideologies, what’s wrong with voting their conscience?

    My editorial comment — legislating by behind-closed-doors deal making is not an ideal way to engender public confidence and support.

  2. Submitted by Peter Stark on 06/10/2015 - 01:10 pm.

    Family Budget

    I’ll never understand how a comment like this makes it into the mainstream and sticks there:

    “Minnesotans expect us to come to St. Paul and lead by working together. The House Republican majority’s aim from the beginning was bringing government spending more in line with family budgets.”

    Mr. Daudt: my family runs a fairly large surplus, just like the State of Minnesota. We make more money than we spend. Are you suggesting that I take a pay cut, to bring my revenues in line with my expenditures? That, to me, seems extremely foolish. It makes a lot more sense to do with my family budget surplus what I currently do with it: Invest it in education, retirement funding, home improvement, and asset acquisition. Obviously, I think the state should do the same thing with its budget surplus.

    • Submitted by Mike Schumann on 06/10/2015 - 07:14 pm.

      Budget

      You missed the #1 priority in my budget: reducing debt.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/10/2015 - 11:46 pm.

      Common Nonsense

      Well said… One of those “down home” lines that sounds good but makes no sense mental bumper stickers Republicans have been using for years now that make people say to themselves (especially outstate regular folks “sitting ’round their kitchen tables working on that family budget” like they did on the Waltons) “Yeah! What’s wrong with those Democrats?”

      Sort of like “death taxes” and “death panels,” but more tailored for mid-west sensibilities, ala GOP/Frank Luntz “public relations” spin specialists. (2011 $6.2 billion Republican-made deficit, but “Not a penny more!”)

      And then, of course, “Daudt touted the ‘third lowest percent increase in general fund spending in over 50 years.”

      Which is another way of saying the Republican budget this year was $42.5 billion which was bigger than the Governor’s or the Senate’s, not to mention the biggest in MN history, BUT it was the “third lowest percent increase in 50 years.”

      And as if anyone needed any more proof that the Minnesota Republicans and their Leader are on top of it, there was his preemptive twitter smiley face.

  3. Submitted by Steve Vigoren on 06/10/2015 - 02:51 pm.

    Jobs and Energy bill

    “Dayton expressed concerns earlier this week about other language in the jobs-and-energy bill that would require people who used alternative energy sources to pay more. But similar language to what the Legislature passed will be included in the final deal, said GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo, the author of the bill”

    It will be interesting to see what this actually says. Rep. Garafolo is the state chairman for ALEC, the Koch brothers organization that is representing coal interests and lobbying for laws and regulations to penalize solar panels installed by residents and small business. Mr. Garafalo is somewhat famous for his comment at an ALEC paid for vacation for state legislators, “Solar is just dumb”. So if Mr. Garafolo is the author of the bill, we can assume the bill started out to make it harder for solar and easier on coal.

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