A special legislative session that would end Minnesota's government shutdown, now in its 17th day, may not end up being held on its 18th.
Having blown through their self-imposed deadline to wrap up 10 bills by late Friday, legislators and members of Gov. Mark Dayton's administration met throughout the day and night Saturday, trying to finish their work so Dayton could call the session.
Although Dayton said Friday he intended to do so for a Monday session, that remained in doubt Saturday.
"It's not off, it's not on," his spokeswoman, Katharine Tinucci said. "The proclamation's ready to be signed; we just don't know when."
Tinucci said talks between members of Dayton's Cabinet and Republican legislators who chair committees responsible for the bills that Dayton has vetoed "have been hard, they've been tough."
Entering the Capitol for a meeting, Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers said simply: "still working."
Tinucci and House GOP caucus spokeswoman Jodi Boyne used the same word -- "progress" -- to describe the state of talks between the two sides. Both said they didn't expect any breakthroughs to occur Saturday.
The deal brokered Thursday by Dayton, Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch is designed to close Minnesota's $5 billion gap. It would do so without the tax increases Dayton has long championed and spends considerably more than Republican legislators said they were willing to countenance.
Despite widespread hopes that the deal would quickly end the shutdown -- the longest for any state in recent U.S. history -- it has encountered grumbling and resistance from both sides at the Capitol. That has raised questions about whether the deal is truly done.
Some DFLers have complained that Dayton meekly caved to the Republican majority in the Legislature, while some Republicans are angry about the increased spending and the abandonment of policy changes, such as abortion restrictions, that were jettisoned.
Bob von Sternberg • 612-222-0973