ST. PAUL -- There's a week left in the legislative session, and House and Senate leaders acknowledged Monday that the two sides are still miles apart.
"We've got a long ways to go," House Speaker Steve Sviggum said after a brief meeting with Senate leaders and administration officials. "We're not going to negotiate in a vacuum."
The Senate offered proposals in the meeting to close gaps on several budget bills, but the two sides haven't yet agreed on a broad budget framework. Essentially, the Senate wants to spend $1 billion more than the House, funded mainly through tax increases on cigarettes and the top 5 percent of Minnesota's wage earners.
Until the sides agree on the overall spending limit, it's nearly impossible to come together on other spending issues.
Meanwhile, the Senate hadn't yet produced a final version of its own tax plan.
The Senate Tax Committee met Saturday, with a DFL majority approving two major tax increases.
But the Democratic bloc collapsed on a proposal to freeze property taxes at this year's levels when DFL Sen. John Marty voted with five Republicans. The bill failed on a tie vote.
Chairman Larry Pogemiller planned to revive the issue in a meeting Monday when others could attend, including Senate Majority Leader John Hottinger. He wasn't there for the vote Saturday because he was delivering a commencement address in Mankato, but he previously supported the freeze.
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