St. Paul - The Minnesota House and Senate are now grinding out the final pieces of a budget that will end a shutdown that is in its twentieth day. Both chambers are in breaking as lawmakers go through the K-12 budget bill and wait for the State Government Finance bill to be made public. Those are the last two pieces of the budget that have to be made public.
The House and Senate have passed eight budget and spending bills since Gov. Dayton called them into special session at 3pm. Debate on many of the bills has been brief. The most contentious arguments occurred when lawmakers discussed the Tax bill. Democrats complained that Republicans were relying on a "Beg, Borrow and Spend" plan to pay for the state's budget. The plan relies on spending cuts, a K-12 payment delay and borrowing against future tobacco payments to erase a $5 billion projected budget deficit. Governor Dayton accepted the GOP proposal last week as a way to end the state government shutdown.
Democrats in both the House and Senate criticized the financing.
"Governor Dayton reluctantly took your plan," Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, told Republicans. "He took your plan on tobacco bonds. He took your plan on borrowing from our kids. You win. You didn't have to tax those millionaires. You win and Minnesotans lose."
Republicans countered that they compromised with Dayton and worked to reduce spending in areas like Health and Human Services programs. GOP House Majority Leader Matt Dean criticized DFLers in the Minnesota House for not voting for a Tax bill that helps end the shutdown.
"Every red vote is a vote to continue the shutdown," Dean told the House Chamber. "We need to get Minnesota back to work. We need to stop pointing fingers."
Dayton said he intends to sign all of the budget bills at once. His spokesman said he'll likely take action on the bill midmorning. If, of course, the Legislature finishes its work by that time.
(Photo Credit: Nikki Tundel)