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Dayton wants to see complete GOP budget plan

ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton warned legislative leaders Monday that he will not consider signing individual budget bills until lawmakers pass all of their tax and spending bills.

"I will not agree to any bills containing revenue increases, reductions or expenditures until after the Legislature has established and decided upon one complete, comprehensive and balanced budget..." he wrote to leaders, indicating that full budget plan will not be known until House-Senate conference committees work out differences between bills passed by the two chambers.

Lawmakers this week, and probably next week, are going through the entire proposed $34 billion, two-year budget in smaller chunks. Budgets for each category -- such as health care, agriculture, public safety and education -- are being debated by the full House and Senate individually.

The Legislature must end its work by May 23, although Dayton could call a special session if issues remain undecided.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, last week said he was not convinced some cost estimates provided by the Dayton administration for GOP bills were accurate. In his letter, Dayton insisted that his administration's figures be used, not estimates from private businesses or other states that Republicans sometimes rely on.

Also, Dayton insisted that the Legislature remove policy items not related to state spending from massive budget bills they are debating.

Republicans told Dayton to stop writing letters and to spend more time talking to legislative leaders.

"Leadership is not writing letters," Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said. "Leadership is not drawing lines in the sand."

House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said that in the next two months Republicans will show their budget plan and one Dayton presented to Minnesotans and see what they prefer.

Dayton and legislative leaders meet regularly, something not done in recent years with other governors and leaders. They say the meeting are civil, but in the past few days they have been harsh with each other in talking to reporters.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.