Dayton calls for mediation

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Gov. Mark Dayton derided a planned legislative hearing on his latest budget offer as a “political stunt,” and said he has asked his commissioners not to attend.

At a press conference, Dayton said he has asked key cabinet members not to appear before the Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy. The joint legislative panel is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. today to seek details on the governor’s latest budget proposal.

Dayton said his administration was not given adequate notice of the meeting, and would not participate. He said there is no point in discussing the details of a budget agreement until Republicans agree to compromise on some kind of revenue increase to help balance the budget.

“We’re not at the beck and call of the Legislature. They’re not in session. They had their five months,” he said.

Dayton further called for a professional mediator to be brought in to help “set the parameters” for future budget negotiations. He said budget talks thus far have not been productive, and is skeptical that a private meeting with legislative leaders planned for tomorrow morning will produce meaningful results.

“I’m willing to meet in the middle, and they’re just standing there,” Dayton said. “I won’t negotiate against myself.”

The legislative session concluded May 23 with no agreement between the governor and the Legislature on how to fix a projected $5 billion budget shortfall. If a biennial budget is not enacted by July 1, a state government shutdown is likely.

Dayton said the Republicans’ $34 billion budget plan will lead to property tax increases and decreased state services for most Minnesotans. Republican leaders have scheduled a press conference later this morning to respond to the governor’s comments.

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