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Dayton, House GOP reach schools deal

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton and majority House Republicans came to a tentative deal Monday on education funding, the largest unresolved piece of the state budget fight that has pushed Minnesota toward a potential government shutdown.

Some of the finer details on the schools plan and a couple of other plans must be fully resolved before Dayton will call a special session for legislative ratification. But he said the progress should give comfort to about 9,500 workers for whom layoff notices were mailed out earlier in the day in the event the budget stood incomplete on July 1, the start of the state's budget year.

"I have no intention to see this go to a June 30 showdown and possible shutdown," Dayton said. "I'm not going to subject people to that."

• The deal:The Democratic governor and top House GOP lawmakers had been at odds for weeks over how much new money to provide public schools. After holding out for more, Dayton said Monday he would accept Republicans' latest offer to put up another $525 million for early childhood through high school education.

Other compromises included elimination of the Minnesota Pollutions Control Agency's Citizens' Board and restoring Commerce Department funding for health-care rate reviews and other duties.


• The threat: Minnesota Management and Budget mailed out 9,451 layoff notices to employees at agencies covered by incomplete budget legislation. Commissioner Myron Frans said the state has activated a contingency response team and will notify some vendors or grant recipients next week that their payments could be suspended starting July 1.

Should the shutdown happen, state parks could be closed, and job training centers also might go dark.

• Still to resolve:Dayton said he is insisting lawmakers rescind a new policy that gives counties more power to hire private firms rather to review their finances, bypassing the state auditor. Daudt said making that change could be a minor sticking point.

Dayton also said he wants clear agreement on all remaining bills before he orders a special session but added he hopes it can be held later this week or next week.

• Feeling well:On the whole, GOP House Speaker Kurt Daudt said, "I think we're there." And Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat, issued a statement of support for the pending agreement, saying "shutting down state government is not the responsible way to resolve these negotiations."

A special session might be held Thursday or Friday.

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