GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers and GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch say they will deliver the votes needed to pass the budget agreement they reached with Gov. Dayton.
“We would not be uncomfortably offering up a solution if we did not have at least a good working relationship with our caucuses on what the solution would be and what it would mean to not only get the shutdown ended but get ourselves back into special session.” - GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers
“We believe the caucus will ultimately support this,” – GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch
But GOP leaders may have to do a little bit of arm twisting in the coming days.
MPR contacted several GOP lawmakers who said they aren’t sure they’ll back the bill.
Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) says she’s not happy the deal extends the K12 school payment delay and borrows against future tobacco payments so she’s not sure she’ll back it. But she believes it’s a political victory that Gov. Dayton lost his push for a tax increase to balance the budget.
“The fact that we are able to walk away without a tax increase is very huge,” Franson said. “The nation is watching Minnesota. We’ve got issues on the federal level. Had we caved into a tax increase it would have sent a message to the entire United States.”
Franson said she’ll wait to see the specifics before she decides to vote for the budget plan. Several others are also taking the wait and see approach.
“I’m optimistic with reservation,” Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) said as he voiced the same frustration that the deal includes borrowing and an accounting shift.
Sen. Dave Thompson (R-Lakeville) declined comment until he knew more about what’s in the deal. He has said he won’t support a budget plan that spends $35 billion. Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Shafer) said he didn’t want to comment until he knows specifics.
Some Republicans say they’re inclined to support the deal.
“I don’t think any side is going to get near what they wanted,” Rep. Tim Sanders (R- Blaine) said. “Now we have to do what’s right, get people to back to work and get that state back open again.”
GOP leaders may have to rely on their party to make sure bills become law. DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said it’s unlikely that his caucus will support the measure.
“It’s the Republican plan. They should accept it,” Thissen said. “They’re the majority and they should be able to pass their own budget.”
Thissen said he did think several Democrats would vote for a bonding bill. That bill needs a 3/5ths majority to become law.