Dayton, Lawmakers Ready for Weekend “Lock-In”

Governor Dayton and two leading Republican legislators reportedly plan to lock themselves in a room this weekend until they're able to make some progress toward a state budget solution.

As the state prepares for a looming government shutdown on July 1, Governor Mark Dayton and two Republican legislative leaders will reportedly make a last-minute attempt to make progress toward a budget solution by locking themselves in a room over the weekend.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch of Buffalo, and Dayton will spend Friday and Saturday-possibly day and night-negotiating bills, according to a report by Don Davis and the Associated Press, which was published on the Duluth News Tribune's Web site

“We won't leave until we at least have some consensus, a framework,” said Zellers, who reportedly came up with the idea for a “lock-in.”

Both sides insist that they've been willing to compromise while the other hasn't.

Dayton said in a Wednesday news conference that Republicans must drop their insistence that the state not spend more than $34 million in its upcoming two-year budget.

Republicans, meanwhile, say they've tried to meet Dayton's requests in major budget areas but won't agree to a budget that includes spending in excess of $34 billion-the amount the state is reportedly expected to collect over the course of the next two years.

The two sides will have only five days after the “lock-in” to pass a budget in order to avoid a shutdown.

If Dayton and lawmakers don't enact a two-year budget, a government shutdown will impact the state and its businesses in a variety of ways. For example, Canterbury Park in Shakopee told Twin Cities Business that a shutdown could cost it millions of dollars.

On Monday, the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents approved a provisional budget-based on the significantly reduced funding outlined by the Republican-led Legislature-that includes a 5 percent tuition hike and layoffs. The school described the budget as a “worst-case scenario” and noted that a state government shutdown would be “a significant challenge” to the school.