Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders reached an agreement Tuesday morning to convene a special legislative session that will begin at 3 p.m. and last for no longer than two days.
If a dozen bills, including nine budget measures, are approved, it would end the state government shutdown,now in its 19th day and one of the longest in recent American history.
“We have reached an agreement on all of the bills,” Dayton said. “We’ve worked very, very hard around the clock for the last four days and nights. The goal has been to get Minnesotans back to work and to end the shutdown.”
“I am very glad to have Minnesota back open,” said Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo.
House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, shook the governor’s hand and gave Koch a quick embrace.
He called the agreement “the essence of compromise.”
Zellers said the agreement “includes some reforms and will get people back to work in a way that will change our state for a generation.”
Dayton said workers could begin returning to work as soon as bills are signed, as early as tomorrow.
Under the agreement, amendments will not be considered for any of the bills and they will be acted on in a fast track manner agreed to by leaders of both the DFL and Republican House and Senate caucuses. After the agreement was reached and signed by Dayton and the four leaders of the Legislature's caucuses, Dayton issued a proclamation calling the lawmakers into the special session.
The budget bills, all vetoed by Dayton, cover the vast majority of state spending for the next two years. Also included is a bonding bill of unspecified size that would pay for capital improvement projects and has long been advocated by Dayton as a job generator.
State officials have been struggling and arguing since January on the best way to eliminate the $5 billion deficit in the state's two-year budget cycle, which began July 1, despite the lack of an agreement. During that period, the state will spend more than $35 billion. About 22,000 state employees have been out of work during the shutdown.
Staff writer Baird Helgeson contributed to this post.
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