Eager to avoid last-minute legislating and hours of budget negotiations behind closed doors, Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders are setting Friday as the deadline for finalizing spending levels in different areas of government.
In the last budget-setting session, a lack of agreement over how much government should spend on schools, public safety, environmental protection and other areas extended right up to the end of the session.
What resulted was a chaotic end, as then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, cut their own deal on the so-called joint budget targets, cutting out Gov. Mark Dayton. The murky process led to a June special session, just a few weeks before the state would have entered a government shutdown.
Joint targets will allow chairs of House-Senate panels to work out how much money will go to various programs and components in their budget bills.
Dayton last week had breakfast with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, and Daudt to talk about the session timeline. The last day the Legislature may meet is May 22.
“The three of us expressed a strong desire to complete this session on time,” Dayton said.
If targets are set by Friday, “We’ll be well on track to meet that constitutional deadline,” Dayton said.
House DFL Leader Melissa Hortman said the sooner the better. “Or we start to run the risk of going into overtime, or worse yet, a shutdown.”