Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, spoke to reporters as legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton took a dinner break after agreeing on a budget target for higher education of $166 million above base, including $30 million for the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Bakk said the negotiators are focused on main budget bills only, and that a special session would likely be necessary if they are to pass any deal on taxes and transportation.
Bakk said that despite the higher education increase, which brings the budget to $3.058 billion, students at the University of Minnesota and MnSCU can expect tuition increases. A final agreement will likely involve parity between the two systems; the original House bill tilted toward MnSCU.
"There's just not enough money to avoid (tuition increases)," Bakk said.
The veteran lawmaker said advocacy groups had unrealistic expectations given the projected budget surplus of $1.9 billion; about $475 million of that is one time money. Bakk, who is in negotiations with Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said they were sensitive to not creating structural deficits.
Bakk said he's instructing Senators on conference committees to deal with budget issues and avoid policy fights.
"I absolutely want them focused on the money," he said.
The lawmakers and Dayton will discuss health and human services after the break, Bakk said.