(This post has been updated)
A special legislative session on Saturday looked less and less likely by Friday afternoon as DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt could not resolve their dispute over legislation that changes the duties of the elected state auditor.
"My guess is the governor's going to come to his senses," Daudt said Friday afternoon, after rejecting a last-minute offer of compromise from Dayton that would have delayed by a year when the state auditor provisions take effect: from July 2016 to July 2017.
Dayton and Daudt struck a tentative deal Monday on education spending, which had been the main basis of the standoff. But a lingering, tangential dispute over the duties of the elected state auditor has kept a final deal in limbo.
Dayton signed a budget bill shortly after regular session ended that allowed Minnesota counties to privately contract for financial audits, rather than submitting to ones performed by the state auditor. The office is currently occupied by DFLer Rebecca Otto, who has vociferously opposed the change.
"The governor himself signed this into law not two weeks ago," Daudt said Friday afternoon.
Dayton said he signed the broader bill because a veto would have left thousands more state workers in line for temporary layoffs in the event of a government shutdown. But, as a former state auditor himself, he demanded that lawmakers turn around and repeal that provision.
On Friday, he publicly aired his offer to accept the language if Republicans are willing to delay it an additional year.
"I don't expect House Republicans to like this compromise any more than I do," Dayton said in a statement released by his office. "I ask them to agree to it, while not agreeing with it, to conclude the people's business."
Daudt said nothing would be gained by delaying the change by a year. He said he had assured the governor that lawmakers would revisit the issue in next year's session, after the Office of Legislative Auditor has a chance to conduct its own audit of Otto's office.
House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said Republicans also told Dayton they were willing to put a separate bill repealing the auditor language on the House floor, or Dayton's proposal to delay the changes an additional year. But the GOP leaders would not offer assurances the bill would pass, and with heavy Republican support for the original measure, it would be likely to fail.
Daudt said he was hoping to meet privately on Friday afternoon with Dayton and the three other top legislative leaders. Daudt called a Saturday special session unlikely, but said he still hoped for one on Monday or Tuesday.