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Dayton 'disappointed,' Daudt 'committed'; budget deal elusive

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Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton says budget negotiations with House Republicans took a step backward Friday, although House Speaker Kurt Daudt was more cheery, calling it another good day of talks.

School funding has been the biggest sticking point in trying to reach a deal lawmakers can approve in a special session before Minnesota's budget year concludes at the end of June.

MPR News reports Dayton offered to give up his priority of money to make free pre-school available statewide, in exchange for an additional $150 million in overall school funding. But the governor said the House GOP wanted to include policy changes such as repealing a requirement that teacher layoffs be based on seniority and rolling back a rule allowing transgender students to use the locker rooms and bathrooms of the gender they identify with, MPR says.

The Pioneer Press notes that at the start of Friday's negotiations at the Governor's Residence, there were high hopes for a deal before the weekend.

The Star Tribune says Dayton told reporters he was insistent with Republicans that $150 million be added to the $400 million that was in the education bill he vetoed: "I'm around all weekend but I said I'm not coming back in the room for less than $150 (million)... with a clean bill on the rest of it," Dayton said.

House Education Finance Committee chair Jennifer Loon told the newspaper: "If the governor is going to insist on an amount of money [that goes above the GOP position], making sure we get good reform is a top priority."

According to Forum News Service, Daudt said he's willing to spend another two or three weeks negotiating with the governor if that's what it takes to get a good set of funding bills.

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