Budget negotiations meetings between Republican leaders, governor begin


By all accounts, this morning’s meeting between legislative education leaders on budget issues was not productive. Republicans say there was no progress because the governor was not at the table.  DFLers say that unless there’s some numbers to work with, the meetings are futile.

This was the first of several budget negotiation meetings called for by Republicans and expected to take place over the next three weeks between legislative committee leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration.

House Education Finance Committee Chairman Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) said they were told via email that Dayton would be in attendance, along with Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Minnesota Management & Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter.

“I will repeat what I said all session long, I am very confident that this Legislature and this governor are going to make dramatic, positive changes in areas of education reform, but we need (Dayton) to be here in order to get that done,” Garofalo said.

However, Rep. Mindy Grieling (DFL-Roseville) said, “I think the governor has to be judicious with his time.  There was no movement in that room. The governor keeps bargaining with himself. … Until we actually know how much is going to be raised, and how much is going to be cut, it’s pretty hard to do a darn thing.”

Garofalo said the Legislature’s proposal for K-12 education calls for a $465 million increase for the 2012-2013 biennium, whereas Dayton’s original K-12 budget proposal calls for an increase of about $530 million.

Dayton is expected to meet with House and Senate majority leaders this afternoon. Republican leadership last week called for daily meetings beginning this week focusing on various parts of the budget. However, Dayton said that unless Republicans were willing to agree to new revenue, the meetings would be “just for show.”

Both sides have until July 1 to work out their differences before a government shutdown would take place.