After a 75 minute meeting, the best and the brightest MN
Elected "Representatives" didn't say when negotiations would resume.
By: Dennis Lien
June 26, 2011
Budget talks between Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders ended without explanation Sunday afternoon, prompting questions about whether the two sides have hit a roadblock in their efforts to end a prolonged budget impasse.
The governor and leaders met on a third consecutive day for about 75 minutes before GOP staff told reporters the session had concluded. They didn't say when negotiations would resume.
Dayton and the key lawmakers left without going past reporters, opting to use other exits.
Later, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, refused to provide specifics, referring to a "cone of silence'' that had been established by the parties.
We've maintained all the way through this weekend that we are going to keep the conversations we had in there in the room,'' Zellers said. "But we continue to talk. We continue to work.''
Senate GOP spokesman Michael Brodkorb said legislative leaders would continue meeting Sunday with finance chairs, but no further negotiations would be held later in the day. No meetings had been scheduled for Monday.
The mysterious conclusion followed 16 hours of private talks Friday and Saturday in which Dayton and leaders reported progress on trying to resolve the impasse that, barring an agreement in the next four days, would lead to a state government shutdown Friday.
The two sides have been at odds over how to resolve a looming budget deficit for the upcoming two-year spending period.
Republicans want a $34 billion two-year budget tied to existing revenue while Dayton wants to increase taxes on the state's highest earners to pay for a $35.8 billion budget.
Though no one signaled any type of agreement was imminent before Sunday's talks, Dayton again said he was optimistic as he entered the room in which talks were being held.
"I hope we can make the kind of progress we've made the past two days,'' a smiling Dayton said.
Afterward, Dayton spokeswoman Katie Tinucci said she wouldn't address what had happened in the meeting.
"There is still work happening around the budget,'' House GOP spokeswoman Jodi Boyne said.
As that work continues, some of the focus will shift to the courts.
A judge today will hear arguments in Ramsey County District Court about courts spending if a shutdown occurs.
In addition, Ramsey County Chief District Judge Kathleen Gearin could rule as early as today whether to keep parts of state government operating if Dayton and the Legislature fail to reach an agreement.
The budget talks were held Sunday afternoon so Dayton could participate in the Twin Cities Pride parade in Minneapolis in late morning. He is the first Minnesota governor to have done so.