Legislators, Capitol staffers and fiscal analysts are gearing up for the final days of the 2017 legislative session, preparing for a still-to-be-determined conclusion with just over a week left until what they call "sine die" — the constitutional deadline to adjourn.
Despite days of budget negotiations between top GOP legislative leaders and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, a compromise budget deal remains elusive. Major differences remain over a litany of policy provisions sought by Republicans, as well as spending levels for state government.
There will be long and late floor sessions. Legislative panels will labor to craft budget bills to Gov. Mark Dayton's liking.
On Friday, Dayton vetoed five budget bills that had been sent to him by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Another five were still pending.
Dayton is in his final budget battle — he's not running again next year, and will leave office at the start of 2019, leaving the next round of spending deliberations to his successor. For now, he's working to preserve his signature legislative accomplishments: the establishment of a voluntary prekindergarten program and his water-quality buffers law. He's also seeking to preserve the legacy of former Gov. Rudy Perpich, resisting efforts by House Republicans to close the Perpich Center for Arts Education.
Republicans will push hard for tax cuts, as well as other priorities like deregulation and shrinking state government. Stay tuned for the conclusion.