Dayton won’t wade into GOP swamp and choose between crocodiles and alligators

Governor Mark Dayton is criticizing Republican legislative leaders for passing budget bills that he argues are out of balance. Dayton says the House and Senate budget plans are more than $1 billion short of erasing the state’s projected $5 billion budget deficit. He says Republicans should not count on more than $500 million in savings tied to the federal government allowing the state to change how it provides health care to poor people under the federal Medicaid program. Dayton says Republicans have to figure out their own budget numbers before he’ll negotiate with them.

“I’m not going to wade into their swamp and choose between crocodiles and alligators,” Dayton said. “That’s why I’ll require them to resolve their own differences and then we’ll have one set of budget numbers and they need to be validated and we’ll have one set of policy proposals that will accompany that. Then we’ll have some equal basis on which to negotiate.”

Republicans say they’ll work with Dayton to come up with a set of numbers that they can both agree on. But they say they don’t intend to back away from their budget plan.

“There are some numbers issues in there that we will have to resolve before we can finish a budget deal,” GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch said. “There’s some recognition of that. I think the biggest point of discussion has to be the idea of the Health and Human Services budget and what we’re going to do with federal waivers.”

Koch also emphasized that Republicans won’t support a tax increase to balance the state’s budget. Dayton wants an income tax hike on Minnesota’s top earners.

While Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are arguing over the biggest parts of the state budget, they did reach agreement on one relatively tiny part–the agriculture budget bill. Dayton told MPR News that he’ll sign the bill, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the state’s total budget.

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