Work on Minn. budget bills expected to pick up as Legislature edges toward deadline

State lawmakers have just two weeks left in the legislative session, and there's still no sign of an agreement to erase a projected $5 billion budget deficit.

The Legislature is constitutionally required to adjourn in two weeks, on May 23.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton remains committed to raising income taxes on top earners. He also isn't willing to start negotiating until Republicans resolve the differences between House and Senate budget bills.

Republican leaders oppose any tax increases, and they want Dayton to come to the table now. House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said he's still optimistic about getting a budget deal on time, as long as the governor gets involved now.

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"I think the differences between the two legislative bodies is very easily remedied, and we could come to that conclusion very quickly," Zellers said. "But this is where we need the governor to engage, not just to dictate to what we should do and when we should do it."

Gov. Dayton said he's still waiting for Republicans to send him a complete budget so he can start negotiating.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he agrees with Dayton, that negotiations shouldn't begin until Republicans resolve the House and Senate budget bills.

"The clock continues to tick, and it gets harder and harder for me to see a way that we will end this session on time," Thissen said. "I still believe that there's time to get a budget bill done, but the Republicans need to do their work and work incredibly hard and work with a laser focus on the budget and not be distracted by all sorts of other issues."

Top Republican lawmakers say they expect work to pick up on budget negotiations between the House and Senate this week.

Monday's legislative agenda includes conference committee meetings on taxes, jobs and public safety.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)