The Minnesota Legislature adjorned its regular session only to begin a special session in the early morning hours Monday at the Capitol to take final action on a proposed budget balancing deal.

The special session is expected to last only a few hours and be limited to ratifying or rejecting the budget deal cut by DFL and GOP leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty just minutes before midnight Sunday.

""We were able to resolve a $3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes," Pawlenty told reporters outside his office. "That's really important."

Pawlenty stood firm on most of his budget demands and the DFL acquiesced to a large degree.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said after the deal was struck that it avoided cuts to nursing homes and that schools would be reimbursed for shifts in state funding.

The deal gives a governor elected in November the option of enrolling poor Minnesotans early into the federal Medicaid program. DFLers had pressed to make early enrollment a mandated part of the budget deal, but Pawlenty opposed it, saying it lacked support from GOP legislators who dubbed it "Obamacare."

DFLers also dropped their call for surcharges on hospitals, clinics and health plans to help balance the budget.

And the Democrats accepted the governor's proposal to expand changes in the General Assistance Medical Care program to make it more appealing to outstate hospitals and an alternative to moving people onto Medicaid.

Pawlenty agreed to avoid pressing for another $114 million in health and human services cuts in exchange for DFLers backing off their earlier push for switching to Medicaid.

Shortly after the special session began, the lawmakers recessed so DFL and GOP caucuses could review the details.

On the Senate floor after midnight, Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, admonished legislators to stay close to the Capitol and not take long naps or risk missing the decisive vote.

"The sooner we can do it, the better," Pogemiller said, referring to a vote on the budget deal.


 

  

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In the early morning hours, legislators mull budget deal.

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Strange things around the Capitol during overnight special session