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Lawmakers work through the night on state budget

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Minnesota lawmakers begin special session at midnight

The lack of public hearings might actually be a good sign, longtime Rep. Paul Marquart said. "It's still within the realm of possibility that they finish on time".

The Legislature was racing Monday to finish a new two-year spending package by midnight.

If they miss that deadline, they can come back for a special session.

Rank and file lawmakers sat around the Capitol passing time as their party leaders hustled in and out of closed-door meetings, keeping mum about the state of the state's two-year, $46 billion budget.

After Monday, positions will likely harden unless a deal is imminent. It also included funding for a signature Dayton priority, pre-kindergarten education, as well as a new version of a teacher licensure bill that the governor previously vetoed.

The $46-billion budget deal is still in limbo, which would include $650 million in tax cuts, $300 million for roadwork and almost $1 billion in public construction projects.

The "legacy" sales tax increase voters approved in 2008 will amount to almost $530 million, with $211 million going to clean water, $105 million to outdoor heritage and $90 million to parks and trails.

That area of the budget, which pays for nursing home care for the elderly, welfare programs for the poor and health care for almost 1 million Minnesotans, has been growing faster than the money coming in. "How do we lower that so we have money for transportation and tax relief and education?"

"It looks right now like we'll get done before 7 a.m.", Gazelka said.

There's not a lot of time left, but there are some big ticket funding items beginning to move. One proposal would delay payments to insurers into the next fiscal year - a shift that lowers the state's bills one year only to increase them the next year.

Bargaining over health and human services spending was the most hard. But also not real, given that Republicans proposed a $45 billion budget and Dayton wanted to spend just $1 billion more.

After a self-imposed 7 a.m. deadline, still no passage. Still, Hurst said MSA was hoping for a larger funding increase. Tony Lourey, DFL-Kerrick. The measures GOP legislators unveiled Saturday removed numerous policy provisions Republicans had previously backed and Dayton abhorred.

"When it becomes apparent if we need extra time, we will talk to the governor about that", House Speaker Kurt Daudt said. "That's what compromise is all about". "We have to get our work done".

"Usually as we're getting closer to deadline, it's kind of like watching a tub drain", said Sen. Still, Democrat Mark Dayton remains the governor and has a strong motivation to fight for his pet projects because the budget being passed Tuesday night and Wednesday morning is his last.

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But the vast majority of state's lawmakers Tuesday still didn't know what's in it.

But the bill's House author, Rep.

Other controversial provisions remain. But the same bill angered Democrats by including a measure Republicans have pushed for months that would ensure the governor's administration can't unilaterally expand driver's license access to immigrants living in the state illegally.

Earlier in the session, they passed two bills to help Minnesotans struggling with high premiums on the individual health insurance market.

Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton schools, where Marquart teaches, tried to pass a school bond referendum in 2015, but 80 percent of voters opposed it.

Plans for a $660 million bill of tax breaks shrunk by $10 million in last-minute negotiations.

State Sen. Carla Nelson, a Republican whose father has been ailing, was given leave to return to Rochester on Saturday.

Nelson is also one of 34 Republican members of the 67-member state Senate.

The tentative agreement does include those tax breaks, as well as a $990 million bonding bill.

It wasn't until shortly before 11 p.m. that lawmakers finally sent a budget funding environmental programs and state parks to Dayton. While he had GOP support for the measure, Republicans did not like how it was progressing and the law was changed in 2016 and they returned this year demanding that the enactment be delayed a year and other changes be made.

"I've got about three gallons of coffee in me, so I'm ready for the long haul", the chair of the House public safety committee said. "It's just wait-and-see. That's what you do now".

Wednesday, protesters from labor and other progressive groups filled the rotunda of the state Capitol to demand that Dayton veto the bills that passed before the Legislature's special session bogged down. More than $20 million of the clean-water fund is to be used by local soil and water conservation districts for buffers.

"The first few terms I was down here, this last weekend would just drive me insane", Marquart said.

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