Republicans again ask for lights-on special session

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Republican leaders again urged Gov. Mark Dayton to call lawmakers into special session to pass six budget bills that would put approximately 16,000 Minnesotans back to work, and to pass a lights-on bill to fund the areas not covered by the sextet of bills.

House Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) said that the difference between the six finance bills — education, higher education, public safety, jobs and economic development, transportation, and environment, energy and natural resources — totals $91 million, or less than one-half of 1 percent of state General Fund spending.

Republicans further expressed concern that the governor is sticking to the mantra he’s used all session: that he wants a total package.

“The governor needs to acknowledge that 16,000 people are now out of work because he won’t sign anything until he’ll sign everything,” said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (R-Buffalo). “It’s interesting that somehow we’re labeled with intransigence because I would suggest this is intransigence.”

“Most Minnesotans think that we should start with common ground and work our way out, start with areas of agreement and work our way out,” Dean said.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) said one thing legislators have consistently heard since the shutdown began July 1 is to at least pass a lights-on bill.

A gap of about $1.4 billion remains between the respective proposals. Dayton has repeatedly endorsed an additional tax on the highest-earning Minnesotans, but said yesterday that he is open to other ways to raise revenue, such as a broadening the sales tax base or raising cigarette and alcohol taxes.

“We have said, pretty clearly I think, that our members cannot vote for a tax increase,” Zellers reiterated.

Leaders were asked what has changed now that the shutdown has reached Day 12.

“These folks are home and they’re getting mad,” Dean said.