Gov. Mark Dayton met with legislative leaders for about 90 minutes Wednesday to discuss a deal for a tax cut and a package of infrastructure spending, but the two sides remained far apart and have no plans to meet again until next week.
“We’re not anywhere near being able to call a special session,” said Dayton, who is empowered to call legislators back to St. Paul but will not do so until he and legislative leaders have the outlines of a deal.
The parties agreed to meet again on Tuesday.
Legislators are trying to finish work left undone when the 2016 session ended in a flurry on May 23, after a $1 billion package of public works projects collapsed in the final moments.
Dayton also did not sign a $259 million tax cut bill that passed both chambers overwhelmingly, citing a $100 million drafting error his staff noticed after the session ended.
As summer vacations begin and the November election draws closer, Republicans and DFLers acknowledged that a deal becomes less likely with every passing day.
“The longer it goes on, the more difficult it becomes,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, who had called on Dayton to keep legislators in St. Paul when the session ended in May, to no avail.
Funding mass transit is a major obstacle to a deal.
House Republicans, who are in the majority, are adamantly opposed to construction of the Southwest light-rail line connecting Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, calling it an expensive boondoggle.
Dayton and DFL legislators want to complete the line along with other transit projects, arguing that adding more cars to congested freeways will stifle economic growth and the metro region’s social vitality.
Metro Transit needs either $135 million or the statutory authority to raise the money on its own, which would give it access to nearly $900 million in federal money to complete the $1.79 billion project.