Dayton wants budget numbers resolved soon

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Gov. Mark Dayton is now describing his ongoing budget disagreement with Republican legislative leaders as “theater of the absurd.”

Dayton claims the GOP has not yet proposed a balanced budget. He says the House and Senate spending bills passed earlier this month are still short by more than $1 billion. The DFL governor told reporters today (Tuesday) that he wants Republicans to finalize their budget bills by next Friday, which would leave another two weeks of the session to negotiate a final agreement.

“They should have to do what I did, which was have a budget that adds up to the $34 billion they’ve set,” Dayton said. “They don’t want to raise revenues, so be it. But then tell us, tell the people of Minnesota exactly where they’re going to make all the cuts necessary to achieve that target.”

Republican leaders insist that their numbers are sound. They also want to use the conference committees to negotiate with Dayton on a bill by bill basis.

Dayton’s news conference also touched on other issues including gambling, Vikings stadium, voter identification and same-sex marriage. Here’s the audio:

UPDATE

Dayton’s timeline came up today during a news conference on an unrelated bill to ban same-sex marriages. Assistant Senate Majority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said the Legislature has an independent opinion of the budget process. Hann said negotiations with the governor can proceed now while spending bills are still in conference committee.

“We don’t frankly see there’s a lot of merit in passing bills, having them vetoed, going through the sort of traditional song and dance we’ve seen in the past number of years, Hann said. “It’s I think a distraction from the work that has to be done, which is to find agreement.”

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