ST. PAUL -- House and Senate leaders hope a two-day recess will give them time to work out an overall budget agreement that could put an end to a weeks-old stalemate.
If they don't negotiate a deal by the time the Legislature reconvenes on Thursday, prospects will dim for either side getting what it wants this year.
Lawmakers have only four days left on which they can pass bills and the two sides haven't even reached agreement on an overall budget number. Once that time is used up, only Gov. Jesse Ventura can call lawmakers back. The governor has said he won't call a special session.
The agreed-upon recess is the first sign in weeks that the sides feel progress is being made.
''What it is is an indication that we are not burning up any legislative days,'' said Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine.
House leaders have called this a make-or-break week. Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, said Monday that if the two sides hadn't made progress by the end of the day, Republicans might just let the days run out and go home rather than accept a package they didn't like.
House Republicans so far have held out for bigger tax cuts and Senate DFLers want more spending on education and other programs.
Moe put forward a dramatic offer last week. He suggested giving the House, Senate and Gov. Jesse Ventura $175 million each to devote to their ongoing priorities.
Moe's idea would allow House Republicans to use their share to cut the rates for all three tax brackets. Senate DFLers could put their money into education and other programs they see as priorities. Ventura would be able to cut license tab fees if he wanted.
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