Gov. Mark Dayton has “reluctantly" agreed to the last Republican budget offer made on June 30 with conditions—a move that could end the state shutdown if Republicans agree.
The governor sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers on Thursday that said that while he doesn't necessarily agree with the method of resolving the budget impasse, he does think it's necessary to end the shutdown as soon as possible.
"I am willing to agree to something I do not agree with—your proposal—to spare our citizens and our state from further damage," Dayton wrote.
“During the past two weeks, I have been listening carefully to people throughout Minnesota … they want this budget dispute resolved," Dayton said before alumni at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. "While they strongly prefer my proposed solution to that of the Republican legislature … they want this government shutdown to end. Now.”
To that end, Dayton agreed to the GOP offer of June 30. Details of that offer include:
- Shift school aid payments from 70/30 to 60/40 ($700 million)
- Issue tobacco bonds to cover remaining gap (to be determined)
- Increase per student formula by $50 per year to cover additional borrowing costs ($128 million)
- Add $10 million to University of Minnesota to equalize reductions with MnSCU ($60 million)
- Restore funding to Department of Human Rights and Trade Office
But the GOP, Dayton said, would have to abide by three conditions: 1) Take all policy issues off the table for the time being; 2) drop a 15 percent, across-the-board reduction in the number of employees at all agencies, regardless of their funding source; 3) after all the budget issues have been resolved in a special session, the GOP must support and pass a bonding bill of at least $500 million next session.
If Republicans agree to Dayton's conditions, a special session to pass a budget—and end the state shutdown—could begin within three days.
GOP spokesman Michael Brodkorb said House Republicans were looking at the governor's offer late Thursday morning, but had no other comment.
James Warden, Mike Schoemer, Katelynn Metz and Kevira Voegele also contributed to this report.