Daudt: Europe trip on hold because of budget talks

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt said he would now accept the education spending offer made by Gov. Mark Dayton on the last day of session. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown,  said Monday he plans to cancel a trip to Europe because of stalled negotiations over the state budget.

Daudt said he’s scheduled to travel to Italy on Sunday to see the World’s Fair in Milan. Minnesota is looking to land a World’s Fair in the future.

Daudt is also headed to Germany as a part of a trip organized by the University of Minnesota. Daudt said he will cancel the trip if he can’t reach a budget deal with Gov. Mark Dayton.

“I will put everything in my life on hold until this is resolved, without question,” Daudt said. “We certainly can’t let those things hold us up from getting our work done here.”

Dayton has to call a special session after vetoing budget bills dealing with education, jobs, agriculture and the environment. The two sides are stuck over how much to spend on education.

Earlier Monday, Daudt and other Republican leaders said they’re willing to accept Dayton’s last-day-of-session offer for education funding in an attempt to resolve the  ongoing budget impasse.

Daudt said that means a $525 million increase in spending over current levels and no additional policy measures. But since the session ended Dayton has raised his spending requirement.

The governor said on Friday he would not resume negotiations with Daudt until Republicans agree to a $550 million increase. Daudt told reporters that he’s grown frustrated with the governor moving the goal posts.

“If the governor is serious about closing this out and doing it representing priorities that he and we both care about, then his offer from the last night of session ought to be reasonable and it ought to be accepted by him,” Daudt said. “If this is about shutting down or playing political games, then I assume he won’t accept his own offer.”

Dayton has not yet responded, but state officials did start sending out layoff notices to nearly 10,000 state employees Monday.

Labor unions representing state workers say they’re disappointed a budget deal can’t be reached when the state has $1 billion sitting unspent.

The layoffs will take effect on July 1 if Dayton and legislative fail to reach a budget deal.