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Dayton says there's a tentative budget deal, special session coming

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Minnesota leaders have reached a tentative budget deal, Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday morning, with the governor saying he is prepared to call the Legislature into a special session, with the hope of convening Friday.

“We have reached tentative agreements on the remaining bills, which must be enacted to conclude the 2015 Legislative Session," Dayton said in a statement Wednesday.

The governor said he will call the special session once he and the four caucus leaders have reviewed and approved the deal and signed an agreement defining what will be discussed during the special session.

This tentative budget deal could prevent a looming partial government shutdown and the layoffs of thousands of employees that would occur if budgets for schools, state parks, economic development and farm programs aren't decided upon by July 1.

Discussions at the special session will focus on the three budget bills vetoed by Dayton last month: education, economic development and energy, and agriculture and the environment.

Dayton said Wednesday that several matters he had objected to during this year's session have been resolved, noting these new agreements include $5 million to help Minnesotans with disabilities find and maintain employment and help prevent Minnesotans with mental illness from becoming homeless.

The agreement also included consumer protections to help taconite and forest products industries, as well as giving the City of Rochester flexibility to use local sales tax to support its Destination Medical Center project.

“The sign of a true compromise is that no one is happy with it," Dayton said in a statement. "Proponents and opponents of various policies across the political spectrum will be as unhappy with certain features as we, who ultimately had to accept them to avoid another government shutdown, the indefinite layoffs of 9,500 state employees, and severe disruptions of important public services."

During negotiations, Dayton backed off of his goal to fund universal preschool and also gave up on his fight over the state auditor's office – things that had previously threatened to derail the special session.

There was a sign a tentative deal had been reached late Tuesday when House Speaker Kurt Daudt tweeted a smiley face with no explanation, KARE 11 notes.

Special session Friday?

A special session to pass these key budgets in order to prevent a partial government shutdown could come as soon as Friday, with the hope of getting everything done in a single day.

“To avoid unnecessary disruptions for Minnesotans, Gov. Dayton prefers holding a special session on Friday, and is focused on getting the final details resolved so that a global agreement can be signed by all four caucus leaders,” Linden Zakula, spokesman for the governor, told the Pioneer Press.

The governor wants hold the special session Friday to avoid inconveniences like the the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources not being able to take camping reservations, MPR News' Catherine Richert tweeted.

The special session will be held in the State Office Building because the Capitol is under construction.

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