Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday he feels a timely session resolution is increasingly unlikely.
"I’m still pessimistic. I would like very much to be surprised," he told reporters.
He said Republicans who control the Legislature gave him less than 12 hours to negotiate on the state's two-year budget before starting to pass their budget bills on the House and Senate floors.
"I think the time is extremely limited but, again I think that’s their responsibility not mine…They couldn’t put a budget together, an honest budget. They finally did that," Dayton said. But once they completed that work, by Dayton's estimate just a few days ago, lawmakers were nearly ready to pass their budget bills on the floor, sending them to him. "Yesterday they told us we had 12 hours to negotiate ...There hasn’t been any opportunity for us to negotiate these in any meaningful way."
Republicans said the governor has made "no effort" to negotiate with them or more clearly articulate his concerns. They said he's more willing to negotiate in the media than with them, one-on-one.
"There's been a real lack of leadership" from the governor, said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo. "It's hard to have words."
Dayton said he has been willing to compromise.
"I made an offer on Monday to meet them halfway and that’s the essence of compromise," he said. "Sharing means you don’t get it all your way."
Republicans say Dayton's offer, which included $1.8 billion in tax cuts and $1.8 billion in spending cuts, is a non-starter. The state, they say, simply needs to live within its means.
That leaves the Capitol in stalemate. While lawmakers have spent dozens of hours debating and voting upon budget bills, those will are nearly certain to be vetoed, Dayton said.
"I’ll take a look at them but I’ve made it very clear I’m not going to sign anything until I agree with all of them. I don’t agree with any of them yet," he said.
Dayton said their budget is "not reasonable. It’s not responsible and its not going to happen."
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said Dayton continues to change his demands for what he needs to begin budget negotiations.
Trying to follow his orders "is like nailing Jello to a tree," Zellers said.