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Shutdown Day 15: Monday is goal for special budget session

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota leaders hope a special legislative session starts Monday to finish the state budget and end a state government shutdown.

Gov. Mark Dayton said on Minnesota Public Radio this noon that he and legislative leaders set a 10 p.m. deadline today for finishing budget talks, giving legislative staff members enough time to put spending bills in the proper order for a Monday session.

Dayton said a budget deal he made with Republican legislative leaders Thursday afternoon gave him everything he wanted other than raising revenue by taxing the rich.

"They were not going to agree to that," Dayton said, so he accepted a Republican plan to borrow $1.4 billion.

Overall, Dayton said, "I feel very good about the result."

Politicians from both major parties said they did not like the result, but many are accepting it because the deal can end the longest shutdown in state history and the longest in the country in a couple decades.

However, Democratic-Farmer-Laborite leaders said they may not be able to support the budget bills due to be in front of them next week.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said that he does not plan to vote for what he calls "a borrowing plan."

The deal Dayton and Republicans made includes:

-- Delay state payments to schools, providing $700 million. That is on top of an existing payment delay, meaning 40 percent of school payments will be delayed, forcing many districts to borrow money to keep operating.

-- Borrow against future tobacco lawsuit payments, providing $700 million.

-- Drop a Republican plan to reduce state workforce 15 percent, one of the GOP's main ways to cut down state government.

-- Remove all policy items not related to the budget from spending bills, such as requiring voters to present photo identification, banning human cloning and restricting abortions.

-- Pass a public works construction bill of at least $500 million, which would include repairs and construction at state facilities and flood-prevention efforts.

The Thursday deal was based on a Republican budget offer given Dayton on June 30. It basically replaced Dayton's tax increase on top Minnesota earners with the plan to borrow from schools and tobacco funds.

Legislators left St. Paul on May 23, their constitutional adjournment deadline. Dayton vetoed most of their spending bills the day later, saying the state needs more money than the Republicans provided.

Republicans, meanwhile, demanded to hold spending at $34 billion for the next two years. In the end, they agreed to spending at least $1.4 billion more than that, but without a tax increase.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.