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This time they really mean it: Definitely no special session

Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders had on-again, off-again talks all summer about a special session to OK tax cuts and construction projects. Dayton buried the idea Friday.
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Minnesota's governor and state legislative leaders can't agree on the specifics of a special session so they're giving up on the idea of holding one – again.

If this sounds familiar, perhaps it's because they said the same thing in August.

But after a break for the national political conventions, they revived discussions of a possible special session to cut taxes and approve $1 billion or so in state construction projects.

But, no. On Friday Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wrote a letter to Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt closing the door on a special session. He noted that we're only 46 days away electing a new Legislature and said every lawmaker running for re-election is busy with that, concluding that "the time for agreement on a Special Session has expired."

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What's the hangup?

Talk of a possible special session started soon after the regular one adjourned in May. Legislators had failed to agree on a package of construction projects. Then Dayton pointed out a potentially costly error in the wording of the tax cut bill and refused to sign that measure.

Dayton, like other governors before him, has said he will not call lawmakers back to St. Paul unless he and the House and Senate leaders from each party agree ahead of time on exactly what they'll approve.

The talks aimed at nailing that down happened behind closed doors but the biggest obstacle has reportedly been whether a Twin Cities light rail line should be included in the list of state-funded construction projects. DFLers support it and Republicans oppose it.

What difference does it make?

There are a whole bunch of building projects that can't break ground without state funding. Those include fixing worn-out buildings on college campuses and upgrading water treatment plants around the state to meet new pollution control standards.

And, of course there are the $250 million in tax cuts that still haven't happened. The tax cut bill also included aid to local governments.

In St. Paul, for example, the mayor and city council were grappling this week over how much to raise property taxes – partly because an expected $3 million from the state didn't materialize.

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