Daudt: Dayton budget stance is time waster

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt says DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is wasting time by refusing to engage in budget bill negotiations this week.

Daudt, R-Zimmerman, met privately Tuesday with Dayton and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka to discuss budget matters. There are less than four weeks left in the 2017 session.

After the meeting, Daudt told reporters that the governor still insists on waiting until House and Senate negotiators resolve their differences before he joins the talks. Daudt made it clear that he doesn’t like the governor’s approach.

“He changed his position and now he’s sitting out one full week,” Daudt said. “We’re not coming to joint targets together. That’s been pushed back now another week. To me, that’s reckless and irresponsible.”

Conference committees are currently working on budget bills that passed in their respective chambers earlier than usual. Despite that cushion, Daudt said he thinks Dayton is trying to gain leverage by intentionally delaying resolution of the budget bills until the end of session.

“I just don’t think that’s right, and I think it’s wrong for the governor to do that,” he said.

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Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said much of the meeting with Dayton focused on four bills: agriculture, jobs, legacy and transportation. He said those bills could be among the easiest to resolve.

Gazelka would also prefer three-way negotiations this week to reach budget targets. But he said he will adapt to the governor's approach.

“We’re going to move as fast as we can and do it in a transparent way,” Gazelka said.

Dayton did not speak with reporters after the meeting. But he later released this statment:

“Speaker Daudt’s accusations are unfounded. I have made very clear the parameters of my engagement, both in writing and in two meetings with him and Senator Gazelka during the past five days. The House and Senate need to reconcile their differences in Conference Committee reports that establish the Legislature’s positions on the biennial budget and policy changes. I presented a balanced budget, reflecting my priorities in January (amended in March). When they have done the same, we can begin to resolve our differences. However, I have been very clear that I will not negotiate with two different House and Senate budget bills, neither of which have been vetted for accuracy by MMB.”