With eye to end session, Daudt lowers tax target

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Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt told reporters Wednesday that a compromise on taxes with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Senate Democrats would require a cut of at least $1.1 billion.

That's less than the $2 billion cut passed by House Republicans but significantly more than Democrats have proposed.

Daudt said an overall budget agreement with Dayton and Senate Democrats has to be “probably somewhere in the middle,” and he warned that if they don't meet him halfway, “we’re probably going to be here past the end of session.”

“Are we going to spend it all or are we going to tell Minnesotans that we’re not going to collect too much money from them?” Daudt said. “That’s the question that we have to come to some agreement on in the next two weeks.”

Dayton and Senate Democrats are proposing a much smaller tax cut and higher spending on health and human services programs, higher education, schools and early childhood education than House Republicans.

Dayton said he didn’t want to talk specific budget numbers with reporters, but he again suggested his top priority is spending more money on schools, clean water and other programs.

“Ask people in Minnesota do you want $250 for your family, $20 a month for two years, or do you want safe, clean drinking water? I think people will opt for the latter,” he said.

Dayton is scheduled to meet with Daudt and other Republicans Thursday. He said he’s not worried about reaching a deal yet because lawmakers have traditionally waited until the last second to compromise. But he said he’s worried that neither side is ready to cut a deal.

“I’m concerned because of the distance that we’re apart and wondering whether the will is there to get it resolved,” he said.

Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk are scheduled to join Dayton at Saturday’s fishing opener. The three of them will be together in Dayton’s boat on Lake Vermilion.

So they could cut a deal on the boat or cut bait on negotiations.

To avoid a special session they have to pass a budget before the constitutional deadline to adjourn on May 18.

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