Republican leaders say budget deal is ‘close’


Lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton have one more day to fund state services and avoid a potential government shutdown, and Republican leaders said they can make it happen.

In a press conference, House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) said Republicans are close to reaching a deal with Dayton on funding state government for the new two-year budget cycle that begins Friday.

“We are very, very close in many areas, and we still believe a shutdown is unecessary and avoidable,” Dean said.

Key lawmakers met with Dayton off-and-on throughout the day in the governor’s office. Few details have emerged from their discussions; both sides have agreed to a “cone of silence” until negotiations are concluded.

If Dayton were to call lawmakers into a special session Thursday, it is unlikely they would have time to pass all the necessary budget bills. Instead, both sides have publicly discussed passing a temporary “lights-on” measure that would fund government long enough for them to craft the final legislation.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel (R-Edina) said Republican lawmakers will be at the Capitol tomorrow and ready to work if Dayton calls on them.

“The legislative branch is powered up. We’re ready to go… We will have the membership here,” he said.

The leaders did not discuss which areas of the budget remain in dispute; nor did they name the areas on which they have agreement.

No further meetings with the governor are planned for tonight, as confirmed by Dayton Press Secretary Katharine Tinucci. Michel said specific committee chairs and staff members would continue to meet tonight to work on their respective budget areas, and Republican leaders would continue their own discussions.