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Legislature shows progress

With a May 21 deadline for wrapping up work looming, there are signs of progress in the Minnesota Legislature.

Some House-Senate conference committees are finishing work, sending budget bills to final votes. Each bill has passed in different versions in the Senate and House, and now the chambers are passing compromise bills.

Negotiators on a bill funding many state government functions signed a deal to spend $551.7 million in the next two-year budget, about $30 million less than in the current budget. An economic development bill closed Thursday night.

House and Senate negotiators neared agreement on funding health and human services programs.

However, three key legislative conference committees don't appear close to a deal. It's an intentional delay by legislative leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, called the situation "a question of whether further discussion of the three remaining (budget) targets helps or hinders the remainder of the session."

Pogemiller said public education, higher education and taxes conference committees will not be told their targets until legislative leaders hold more talks.

Senators plan to pass four major bills today - public safety, state government, environment and economic development budgets.