Definition of PROGRESS
1a (1) : a royal journey marked by pomp and pageant (2) : a state procession b : a tour or circuit made by an official (as a judge) c : an expedition, journey, or march through a region
2: a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) : advance
3: gradual betterment; especially : the progressive development of humankind
Progress is a word we're hearing a lot today as Gov. Dayton and Republican lawmakers continue to meet behind closed doors.
"Continuing to make progress," Dayton told reporters during one of the breaks in meetings.
"It's the best progress so far," Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, told reporters after he left a meeting. Abeler chairs the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
The only problem is it's difficult to decipher what that means. Dayton and GOP leaders are maintaining radio silence and are saying very little about the status of negotiations.
Today's discussions focused on Health and Human Services, Higher Education, the Environment and Energy and Taxes.
This is the second straight day that Dayton and lawmakers are meeting behind closed doors.
The stakes for these talks are huge. The two sides have six days to reach a budget deal. If they fail, state government will shut down. Thousands of state employees will be laid off, state amenities like parks will close and the status of many state services will be up to a Ramsey County Judge.
Dayton and Republicans are $1.8 billion apart on reaching a budget deal. Dayton is aiming to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit through a mix of spending cuts, a K12 accounting shift and an income tax increase on Minnesota's top earners. Republicans say they can erase the budget deficit by relying on the accounting shift and spending cuts.
It appears that some lawmakers are expecting to keep working early next week. Abeler said negotiations on Health and Human Services were done for the day. He said he expected talks to resume on that budget area on Monday.
"We have a considerable road trip ahead of us," Abeler said.
He declined to discuss what were the main issues discussed in the meetings.
No word on how long talks will continue today or if the two sides intend to meet tomorrow. Meetings wrapped up today. They will meet again tomorrow at 2pm.