Capitol talks continue with little progress reportedby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Today was the day House and Senate Republicans wanted to wrap up the 2012 legislative session, but they have yet to resolve three big issues and the session will continue for at least another day.
Lawmakers have not yet passed a tax bill, a bonding bill or a Vikings stadium bill.
After a two-hour closed-door meeting with Republican legislative leaders Dayton emerged from his office to report that it had been constructive, but there was still no resolution on any of the remaining issues. They also agreed to keep talking. Dayton said he asked GOP leaders to scrap their self-imposed deadline for adjournment.
"They've got to May 20, or 21, constitutionally. It's more important to get all this resolved successfully than it is to meet some other date," Dayton said. "I encouraged them to stay as long as they need to get all of this resolved."
The meeting touched only briefly on the stadium bill, and they talked only about its legislative logistics rather than its content, Dayton said. He said most of the time was spent discussing the tax policy changes that Republicans want and the provisions that he is willing to support. The governor said the GOP tax bill finalized over the weekend remains problematic, because it adds to future debt.
"I think taking $145 million, as their current proposal proposes, out of the next biennium; adding that amount to the projected $1.1 billion deficit, is fiscally unsound and unwise," Dayton said. "That's one of the hang ups, and we're trying to see if there is any way to work with that."
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said the discussion covered much of the same ground as earlier negotiations. He said an agreement with the governor could add a day or two to the session.
"The three moving parts haven't changed. It's just a matter of how it looks, what the pieces of the parts are, and then how they all fit together to end session in a timely manner," Zellers said.
There were signs earlier Monday that not every member of the Legislature was willing to keep talking. Rep. Greg Davids, R-Spring Valley, the chair of the House tax committee suggested there was no wiggle room left on the bill he negotiated with the Senate.
He said he was ready to vote on the bill.
"I believe the time for compromise is over. We're giving him our best effort, our best work," Davids said. "And just physically, logistically, this is the bill."
Davids also defended the tax package as a "great bill" that everyone, including the governor, should be able to support. The tax breaks for businesses would end up benefiting every Minnesotan, he said.
But late in the day both the House and Senate adjourned until Tuesday, guaranteeing that the session would last beyond the self imposed deadline of April 30.
Dayton began his day at the Capitol by hosting a signing ceremony for a health and human services finance bill. Dayton said the bill, which restores $18 million in spending cuts from last summer's budget agreement, is one of the great, bipartisan accomplishments of the session.
One of the key architects of the bill, Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, joked that his negotiations were helped by sharing candy. Abeler then presented Dayton with a box full of candy for the day ahead.
"Some people thought that this made for goodwill. So, we wanted to bring a whole lot of goodwill here for the future work that can go," Abeler said. "When people are happy, they can negotiate better."
- All Things Considered, 04/30/2012, 5:20 p.m.