Gov. Mark Dayton says the latest round of private budget negotiations with House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, took a step backwards.
Dayton, a Democrat, told reporters after talks broke off Friday afternoon that Republicans wouldn’t accept an offer to give up his priority, a plan for universal preschool, in exchange for a $150 million increase in school funding.
The governor said the House GOP now wants the education bill to include their teacher tenure and transgender bathroom policy measures.
Dayton said both the level of funding and policy positions are unacceptable.
“I’m around all weekend. I’m available to meet at any time,” Dayton said. “But I said I would not walk into the room for under $150 million of additional funding. I stated that a week ago and that’s my position. That’s been my position consistently. So until they’re willing to agree to that, we have nothing to talk about.”
House Republicans later shared the two offers, which confirmed Dayton’s description. Their last offer included a $125 million increase in education spending on top of what’s already in the vetoed bill. Republicans also propose a basic formula increase of 2 percent in each of the next two years.
After the day’s talks broke up, Daudt offered a less pessimistic assessment. He said he thought they were getting closer to a deal.
“I’m committed to working every day, as much time as it takes to get this worked out, and I’m hopeful we can,” Daudt said. “But obviously it does take some time, and folks sometime have to retreat to their corners and talk and think. So that’s what we’re going take some time to do tonight.”
Dayton will need to call lawmakers back to St. Paul soon to revisit the three budget bills he vetoed after the regular session ended. In addition to education, he rejected finance bills for environment and economic development. Those three bills must be enacted by July 1 to avoid a partial government shutdown.