Sunday state budget talks end; no progress reported

Dayton vetos budget bills
DFL Gov. Mark Dayton speaks at a news conference in a May 2011 file photo.
MPR File Photo/Tim Pugmire

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders have ended talks for the day aimed at reaching a budget agreement that would head off a state government shutdown next week.

After meeting eight hours Saturday, they met for only a little more than an hour Sunday. They did not talk to reporters after the meeting, and it's unclear when or if talks will resume. Dayton and GOP leaders avoided reporters by exiting the meeting through a back door.

Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers wouldn't say why the meeting ended, and he didn't know when they would talk again.

"I'm going to be here," he said. "We're going to be ready to go to work."

Senate GOP Spokesman Michael Brodkorb said he wasn't sure when they would talk again.

"The legislative leaders are going to be here today working, working and talking with respective staff and committee chairs, but I can't speak to any upcoming scheduled meetings with the governor," he said.

The governor's spokesperson was also in the dark. Press Secretary Katharine Tinucci told reporters she would get back to them.

Dayton and GOP leaders have said they won't comment publicly about specifics while the negotiations continue. On his way into Sunday's meeting, Dayton stayed true to that pledge.

"I'm always optimistic, hopeful," he said. "I hope we can make the kind of progress we've made the past two days."

State services will begin shutting down Friday, unless the governor and lawmakers reach a deal or if the courts intervene. A Ramsey County judge could rule in the next few days whether some essential services should continue during a shutdown.

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