Shutdown Day 19: End in sight?

Several people tell MPR News that there is a handshake agreement on all of the budget bills. The language now has to be drafted in bill form and get final agreement from Gov. Dayton and GOP legislative leaders. No word on how long that will take but remember that the Health and Human Services budget bill and the K-12 funding bill often run hundreds of pages.

There is a possibility that Gov. Dayton could call a special session as early as today. Expect the House and Senate to kick it into overdrive and work around the clock until all of the budget bills have been passed into law.

House and Senate leaders will make motions to suspend the rules and take up the bills right away. Democrats, who have been mostly shut out of negotiations, have been critical of the budget framework but are likely to put up the votes necessary to keep the session moving. No one wants to look like they’re holding up the bills when 22,000 state employees are off the job.

Key questions:

Do Republicans have the votes to pass the budget? Several GOP first-term members have argued that they won’t spend “a penny more” on the budget. Many are taking a wait-and-see approach to the budget.

What cost savings measures are in the bill? Several members, including Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, say they’ll be inclined to vote for the bills if there are measures that will slow the rate of growth in the Health and Human Services and State Government budgets bills. No word on what those changes look like.

Will MCCL crash the deal? Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life says it has deep concerns that GOP leaders, particularly Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and House Speaker Kurt Zellers, agreed to remove abortion language in the budget bills. Dayton wanted controversial policy provisions removed from the budget bills. MCCL’s Scott Fischbach, who is married to Senate President Michelle Fischbach, has been highly critical of the decision and has criticized GOP leadership for the move. Will he influence enough Republicans to scuttle the deal?

How long will it take for government to re-open? Many of the budget bills say they take effect “one day after final enactment.” That means state departments and state agencies can start work again one day after Dayton signs the bills into law. Some services won’t be up and running right away though. State workers will get three days notice to return to work.

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