Once again, the Minnesota legislative session is ending in acrimony

We're hurtling towards the Monday deadline with no agreement on two hugely important bills.
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The end to the 2018 Minnesota legislative session is proving every bit as thorny as last year's, with Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican-led Legislature once again butting heads.

Last year saw a long, protracted legal battle over Dayton's use of a line-item veto in the Legislature's biennial budget.

This time around, Monday's deadline for the end of the legislative session is looming large and there are still no agreements in place for two vital bills  – the tax bill and the public works bonding bill.

It's been three months since the legislative session started, and it looks like this year's will follow the recent pattern of frantic, late amendments and last-minute votes.

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What's happening with the tax bill?

Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday vetoed the tax bill agreed by the House and Senate, which would adapt Minnesota's tax codes to conform with the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December.

The bill lowers state tax rates for earners in the bottom two income tax brackets as well as cutting the corporate income tax rate.

But Dayton vetoed the bill in a row over education funding.

Dayton wants the Legislature to increase education spending by $138 million, which would cover the losses projected by 59 school districts ahead of the 2018-19 school year.

The state can afford the money because of the budget surplus, he says, and wants the GOP to cut back on some of its corporate tax breaks to fund it.

But Republicans say Dayton has brought the issue up too late in the session and argue the Legislature has boosted schools funding in recent years, but schools haven't always been the best at using the money.

MPR reports that one of the big drivers of school budget struggles has been special education, the costs of which have grown 26 percent even after accounting for inflation over the past decade.

What about the infrastructure bill?

The $825 million public works bill failed in the Senate, where it needs a 41-vote supermajority to pass.

The Republican-backed bill didn't get the Democrat votes it needed to pass, with the Senate voting along party lines at 34-33.

DFLers are holding out for a bill that's closer to the $1.5 billion package proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton earlier in the session, the Star Tribune reports.

The bill had passed the Minnesota House on Monday by a vote of 84-39.

What if neither is agreed?

Regarding the tax bill, House Speaker Kurt Daudt told reporters on Wednesday that there should be enough time left in the legislative session to send another bill.

However, he's also said it'd be difficult to address the school funding question in such a space of time, and suggests that they would have more time in a special session.

Dayton has been adamant that he doesn't want there to be another special session, setting lawmakers with a tight deadline to come up a compromise.

If no tax bill is passed, the implications could be enormous for around 870,000 Minnesotans who stand to see their tax bills rise by $489 on average if Minnesota's state taxes don't conform with the federal changes.

As for the infrastructure bill, the Pioneer Press reports that no accord on public bonding could mean much-needed repairs to state buildings won't go ahead, road and bridge construction would be delayed, and sewer and water systems won't get upgraded.

Republican Senate leaders however are hopeful they can come up with another plan that would pass before Monday's deadline.

“Hopefully, as we sprint toward the end of session, there is still time to revise this key bill and increase investments, address more needs and improve regional balance.”

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