ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he does not think he and lawmakers will be able to agree on major legislation in the final day of the 2018 legislative session.
"I am not optimistic we will get a budget bill or a tax bill," Democrat Dayton told reporters Saturday night, May 19. "I am not optimistic we will get education funding. This session has been a shambles."
Republicans who lead the Legislature planned to pass a 990-page bill late Saturday or early Sunday that folds together most spending proposals and hundreds of policy items that Dayton said should not be mixed with spending provisions. The bill was first made available after 7 p.m. Saturday, with senators planning to debate and pass it at 9:30 p.m.
Dayton said he will have his staff go through bills the Legislature sends him "with a fine-toothed comb" over the next few days, so there will be no chance for him to veto bills quickly and for lawmakers to rewrite and repass them. The governor vows not to call a special session.
The state Constitution gives the Legislature until midnight Sunday to pass bills, which includes overturning vetoes.
Before Dayton made his comments, Republican leaders emerged from his office. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said; "I hope he signs all of it."
Moments later, however, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, admitted that Dayton was not likely to accept the overall budget and policy legislation, known as an omnibus bill.
Daudt and Gazelka said they offered to put $250 million more in education, but Dayton said it would come from existing funds such as community education programs and was not new money.
On Friday, after a deadly Texas school shooting, Dayton and legislative leaders said school safety would be a top priority. But Saturday night it appeared that at least most of the school safety funds would be in bills Dayton expects to veto.
Republicans said they made 71 of 116 changes Dayton demanded in the omnibus bill. However, Dayton said, that was before health and human services provisions were ready, and they contained a lot more problems.
The GOP leaders were not impressed by an offer Dayton made early Saturday evening. Among other things, it reduced tax relief Republicans sought.
Gazelka said it appeared that Dayton's plan would raise taxes on higher income people and eliminate the GOP middle-income tax cut. But it seemed Republicans had not had time to analyze the proposal.
It’s not clear what happened behind closed doors when Dayton and Republicans met for about half an hour. But when they came out, the Republicans said they would pass the omnibus bill later Saturday.
It appeared that a public works bill remained possible.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, said he was working with Sen. Sandy Pappas, D-St. Paul, to help Republicans draw up a new bill that would pass.
Republicans can pass most bills without any Democratic votes, but a super majority is needed to borrow money -- needed to fund public works projects -- and no Democrats voted for the first Senate measure.
Bakk said more projects would need to be added to pass a public works bill, but Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he could not put any more money in the bill.
Dayton's comments about a failed session means that after three months of work, lawmakers and Dayton may not enact their priorities, such as deciding how to spend a $329 million budget surplus, what to do about opioid abuse, how to handle elder abuse, whether to enact sexual misconduct legislation, work to fix the trouble-plagued motor vehicle registration and licensing system and nearly everything else from the three-month session.
A few bills have passed on their own, but as has been happening more and more each year, most major bills are folded into one.
Dayton has said for years that policy items that have nothing to do with spending should not be mixed with spending bills.
"On the budget bill, we did not have one word of discussion about the budget," Dayton said.
Daudt said Republicans tried to remove the most objectionable policy items from the bill after they received Dayton's list.
Dayton, who leaves office the first of next year, long has said he wants to leave the state in good fiscal shape. But short of an unexpected last-minute deal, he will leave many loose ends.
"The next year's Legislature and new governor are going to have to deal with some leftovers, which I regret," he said.