Legislative leaders, the Governor and his agency heads worked through Saturday to try and find a way forward on a new two-year budget. The tone was cordial, but not much if any detail has emerged from their talks.

As we enter the last two weeks of session, the GOP legislative majorities need to decide if they’re going to put their budget plan on the Governor’s desk and if so, do it by the end of this week in order to leave the last week to hammer out a plan.

The Governor has vowed to veto much of their tax and spending plans. The question for the GOP majorities is which, if any of their spending and tax bills do they actually want to say they passed and then blame the Governor for vetoing it.

Their $1.15 billion tax cut plan seems to be the most obvious headliner to draw a stark distinction between the GOP and DFL. The problem for rural schools is if the Tax bill is vetoed, it’s not clear if there will be a second attempt at a more targeted bill that continues to include Ag2School.

Ag2School shares broad based support and rural legislators ought to make sure that it becomes law no matter what legislative hurdles they have to jump at the end of session.

The E-12 bill will be one of the last to be decided. The Governor’s demand for more Voluntary Pre-K funding and the GOP’s desire to terminate the program will be negotiated against some larger issue among leaders. The GOP is so focused on repealing VPK that they’re willing replace the funding for current VPK recipients with an almost equal amount of ongoing School Readiness funds.

Dueling editorials have littered the Star Tribune over the last several weeks as to what approach the state should take on early learning. Governor Dayton wants a broad-based pre-K program to be his legacy. Look for him to trade something else away that’s near and dear to the DFL in order to get it.