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DFL leaders optimistic on budget deal

Democratic legislative leaders say they are optimistic that their Republican colleagues and Gov. Tim Pawlenty will deliver an offer today that advances session-ending budget talks.

Late in the week, House and Senate staff, along with the governor's office, developed a spreadsheet comparing various budget proposals. Now that they are working off the same page, leaders said it will be easier to reach a compromise.

Republicans, led by Pawlenty, plan to deliver a budget compromise proposal on Monday.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, said she is optimistic a budget-balancing deal is within reach. "There is a lot of closeness," she said about budget numbers.

Also on Monday, leaders of a health-care reform debate meet with the governor at his official home - for three hours - to discuss how to break a stalemate.

Lawmakers may meet in session for 16 more days before reaching a constitutional cap on the number of days. However, if legislators spread out the days, they still can meet off and on through May 19.

Legislators say they need to balance the state budget this year, but otherwise most other legislation can wait until 2009.