No budget progress but GOP questions Dayton’s absence at meeting

There’s still no progress on resolving the state’s budget situation and Republican are accusing Democratic Governor Mark Dayton of not showing up for a morning meeting. Republicans met privately with Dayton’s staff and DFL lawmakers earlier this morning to discuss school spending bills. Republicans say they were told Dayton would attend the meeting. Rep Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says he’s disappointed the governor wasn’t there.

“We need the governor to come out and play,” Garofalo said. “This Legislature and this governor will make dramatic, positive changes in the area of education reform but we need him to be here to get that done.”

A spokesman says Dayton would have attended the meeting if Republican legislators offered something new on budget negotiations.

“We’ve been clear that if they don’t bring something new to the meetings that it’s just for show,” Dayton spokesman Bob Hume said. “This is clearly just for show.”

Hume said Dayton was in another meeting and would have been alerted if Republicans brought anything new to the table. DFL state Sen. Leroy Stumpf says it’s hard to negotiate the K-12 bill without an agreement between Dayton and GOP legislative leaders on how much the state has to spend.

“When you don’t have some kind of a target or basically an overall plan, it doesn’t help very much to try to solve the details because you’re basically going around in a circle,” Stumpf said.

Dayton and GOP legislative leaders are scheduled to meet this afternoon to discuss the budget. Dayton wants to raise income taxes on Minnesota’s top earners to erase a projected $5 billion deficit. Republicans say the state has enough money and needs to cut spending.

Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista, says she still thinks it’s valuable for lawmakers to meet on the K-12 budget bill even if there isn’t an agreement between Dayton and GOP legislative leaders.

“The idea that we can’t get some of our policy as well as spending priorities in place so that it’s ready to deal with when leadership makes that final agreement is frustrating,” Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista said.

Dayton is scheduled to meet with GOP legislative leaders this afternoon to discuss the budget. Hume said Dayton will attend that meeting.

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