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Dayton, GOP reach deal to fund Legislature until Oct. 1

By Brian Bakst

MPR News/90.1 FM

Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders said Friday they have a deal to keep the Legislature and its staff funded for the next 90 days as a lawsuit continues over Dayton’s earlier move to defund the House and Senate.

Without the agreement, funding would stop on July 1. Legislative leaders said Thursday in a court filing that they would have to start furloughing employees within the next couple months as they exhaust their reserve funds.

A judge needs to sign off on the agreement. A hearing in the Legislature’s lawsuit against the governor is still set for Monday morning in Ramsey County court.

“If approved, this agreement will protect legislative employees, who are not to blame for our present disagreement, and Minnesota’s credit rating, which we have worked so hard to restore,” Dayton said in a statement. “I hope that this agreement signals the resumption of good faith negotiations to resolve our policy differences and protect our State’s fiscal integrity.”

Dayton used his line item veto power to zero out House and Senate funding to try to get them to come back to the bargaining table on other budget issues. Legislative leaders argue the move is unconstitutional.

“If granted, this stipulation will allow the legislature to continue representing more than five million Minnesotans, and protect Minnesota’s credit rating as the legal process continues,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa. “We look forward to Monday’s hearing and hope for a swift decision from the courts.”

“This will prevent the voice of Minnesotans from being silenced by the governor’s unconstitutional veto,” added House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman. “We’re pleased the governor has recognized the importance of ensuring that Minnesotans continue to have representation in St. Paul.”