Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders plan to meet again tomorrow to talk about the state budget. The two sides met privately for about 45 minutes today but revealed little about what was said behind closed doors. Dayton said keeping their negotiations private helps the two sides have an open dialogue. But Dayton wouldn't predict if a government shutdown can be averted by Friday's deadline.
"Either one is possible," Dayton said. "We will or we won't. I'm not going to lay odds on it but those are the two possibilities. We're committed to doing everything possible with these negotiations to avoid a shutdown."
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers says the two sides were focusing on key budget areas like education, health care, transportation and public safety.
"We're talking about the exact same things we have been talking about," Zellers said. "Because this is a very different legislative makeup, because there are tough economic times, these are difficult budget items to work through so it's taking us a little bit longer. I think most Minnesotans would say 'Do it right. Get it right the first time and if it takes a little bit longer it's worth the while because these are such tough times."
Dayton and Republicans differ over the best way to balance the state's budget. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota's top earners to help erase a $5 billion budget deficit. Republicans say the deficit can be erased entirely through spending cuts. State government will shut down on Friday if the two sides fail to reach a budget deal.
Dayton and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet again tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock.