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Home / News / Dayton accepts GOP pre-shutdown budget offer, with conditions
The offer includes $700 million in extending a school shift and another $700 million in tobacco settlement money to close the remaining $1.4 billion gap between the DFL governor and GOP majorities. It also calls for three additional conditions from the governor.

Dayton accepts GOP pre-shutdown budget offer, with conditions

Gov. Mark Dayton (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to GOP leaders of the Legislature on Thursday offering to accept a proposal they made on the eve of the government shutdown — with several significant additions — in order to solve the $5 billion budget deficit.

The offer includes a $700 million expansion of the state’s K-12 aid shift (which currently stands at $1.9 billion) and another $700 million in tobacco settlement money originally proposed by GOPers on June 30th to close the remaining $1.4 billion gap between the two parties. Dayton said he hopes the offer will end the state government shutdown, now the longest in the state and nation’s history.

The proposal also attaches three new conditions from the governor: pass a $500 million bonding bill and remove a 15 percent state workforce cut and all social issues from their budget bills.

Republican leaders are currently reviewing the offer, and will meet with the governor in his office at 2 p.m.

“Today is the 14th day of the state government shutdown, for which you, your Republican caucuses, and I are responsible,” the governor wrote in the letter. “During the past two weeks, I have been listening carefully to the people of Minnesota. They are telling me that, overwhelmingly, they want this budget dispute resolved. While they strongly prefer my proposed solution to that of the Republican Legislature, more than anything, they want this government shutdown to end. Now.”

Dayton noted reservations about using the tobacco and school money to close the gaps, as they are not permanent sources of new revenue. “However, despite my reservations about your plan, I have concluded that continuing the state government shutdown would be even more destructive for too many Minnesotans,” he wrote.

If  GOP leadership bites on the offer, Dayton said he would be willing to call a special session as soon as his commissioners sign off on the budget bills. He estimated that could be completed within three days.

See the letter to GOP leaders here.

Four GOP Freshman legislators were cautious, but optimistic in response to the offer on Minnesota Public Radio this afternoon.

“We don’t want to kick the can down the road,” Republican Sen. Gretchen Hoffman said, adding that she is hopeful an agreement can get Minnesotans back to work now with more reforms to come “in the future.”

Hoffman’s Republican Senate colleague John Howe was also optimistic, but added: “I don’t think anybody here said we agreed to it,” noting that he had concerns about the school shift and transferring “burden onto the future.” GOP Freshman Rep. King Banaian also expressed concerns about future debt, while his fellow Republican St. Cloud Rep. Steve Gottwalt told the St. Cloud Times that the offer made him “very hopeful.”

Some reactions weren’t as rosy. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dave Thompson, also a freshman, tweeted that the governor was merely attaching new items to their offer. “Governor did NOT ‘accept’ the June 30 offer. He has simply attached new conditions to the June 30 framework,” Thompson tweeted.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen responded to the offer in a statement, calling the move a “true act of statesmanship.” He also warned the GOP majorities that the “clock is ticking” to accept the offer.

“By offering the Republicans their budget, Gov. Dayton is rising above politics, above partisanship, and making Minnesota his top priority.  It is now up to the Republicans to end this costly and destructive government shutdown by accepting and immediately passing this offer,” he wrote. “The clock is ticking.” The DFL plans to caucus this afternoon.

Check back at PIM for updates.

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