Senate GOP ready for budget talks

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After passing a series of budget bills, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate say they now want to start negotiating with the House and DFL Governor Mark Dayton on a final agreement.

Senate GOP leaders held a news conference today to declare success in delivering a two-year budget plan that doesn’t raise taxes. Dayton’s budget plan relies heavily on an income tax increase for top earners to erase a projected $5 billion deficit and avoid deep spending cuts. Republicans still aren’t budging on the tax issue, but Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said she thinks there are areas of potential agreement in several bills.

“Traditionally some have gone through and passed, and others, there’s been sort of a back and forth veto process,” Koch said. “I don’t know how helpful that’s been in the past. I think for us those discussions should happen in conference committee, and if we can get some successes and get some forward momentum on bills, why wouldn’t we?”

Democrats remain critical of the bills. Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he doesn’t think Dayton will sign any of the finance bills until GOP leaders remove most of the contentious policy provisions.

“The governor has been pretty clear he’s not going to take any policy provisions,” Bakk said. “So, they’re either going to take them out, or they’re destined to a certain veto.”

Here’s the Senate GOP news conference:

Here’s the Senate DFL response:

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