Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders met for half an hour Tuesday afternoon, where Dayton presented a new budget offer including less spending and more tax cuts than his original proposal. Few are uttering the dirtiest "s" word in state government yet, but the prospect of another painful shutdown is looming. Then the real work begins. House Speaker Kurt Daudt says, "We purposely left enough time to make sure that we didn't end up in this kind of end-of-session mad rush, but the governor obviously thinks that that's what gives him the advantage in negotiations".
"We have worked diligently over the past five months to craft education legislation that puts Minnesota kids first", said Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, chair of the House Education Finance Committee. That means the fate of Dayton's prized preschool program - which Dayton sought to expand but Republicans proposed eliminating - is still up in the air.
The sides reached a tentative agreement on the agriculture area of the budget. On Wednesday, they intend to engage in serious discussions about health care spending, one of the biggest spending drivers.
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Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka called its renewal a setback and unacceptable.
But Republicans' takeover of the Senate in November has given the GOP extra power to stand firm against any tax or fee increases that Dayton has deemed necessary. Republicans want a slimmer budget with $1 billion in tax breaks.
Dayton said he's trying to avoid shifting money from the general treasury - $372 million in the next two years and more into the future - into a new road account because it would compete with other priorities and be ripe for cuts during an economic downturn.
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