The clock is ticking at the Minnesota State Capitol. With just 5 days until the end of the legislative session, there's still no decision on roads, early education, or health care for thousands of Minnesotans.
There are a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is divided government. There are two completely different world views of what state government needs to do, and they're trying to bridge the gaps in these final days.
The smiles on their faces heading into the governor's residence Wednesday only masked the deep divisions on the legislative floor. Earlier Wednesday, as House Democrats chided Republicans on the lack of a budget deal, House Speaker Kurt Daudt spoke of confidence.
"I know how these things work," said Rep. Daudt (R-Crown). "Things tend to come together pretty quickly at the end, so it seems like you have a long ways to go and then it all comes together."
A lot is at stake in these budget negotiations. Students from Minnesota State University in Mankato rallied at the Capitol for more funding to MnSCU, and Gov. Mark Dayton is still holding out for money to cover all-day preschool for 4-year-olds. House Republicans want to move tens of thousands of residents off of the Minnesota Care health plan.
No 'lights on' bill
But if there's no agreement, Senate Republicans tried to advance a so-called "lights on" bill to keep state government running after July 1. That effort failed on a 28-36 vote.
"I think people at home need to know that not only are we going to maintain operations of the State of Minnesota, we as a legislature, if we cannot get our job done on time, are not going to be paid," said Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound).
Another night on Summit Avenue
The efforts failed, all as legislative leaders meet at the governor's residence once again to try and find a deal.
"I'm optimistic we'll finish on time and we are making progress," Daudt said.
The governor and legislative leaders are expected to take a break for dinner and then have at it again most of the night.