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Minnesota special session with tax relief still a possibility

Local government officials across Minnesota need to know if a special legislative session will be called to pass a tax bill.

They are nearing a deadline to plan for money the bill would provide them, but Friday is the earliest state leaders will meet about the issue.

Gov. Mark Dayton told reporters on Monday that he and four legislative leaders are to meet Friday to discuss a special session. However, Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over building a light rail line to serve the southwestern Twin Cities, the issue that has prevented a special session since the regular session ended in late May.

Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, had set next week as a tentative time for a special session, but on Monday Dayton said that likely would be pushed back a week or two if a deal could be reached soon.

The Democratic governor said that if a deal it not reached within a few days, there likely will be no special session.

Two major issues remain to be done: fixing a mistake in a tax bill and repassing it and passing a public works funding bill that includes road and bridge money.

The League of Minnesota Cities told its members Monday to proceed as if they are not getting the boost in Local Government Aid included in the tax bill. If the Legislature makes a change, the league said, property tax levies still could be reduced.

Cities were to get a $20 million boost in state aid in the next two years under the tax bill for a total of $540 million. Other local governments also were to receive more state aid.

Dayton vetoed the tax bill that contained both tax cuts and more local aid after a mistake was discovered that would have cost the state millions of dollars. Legislative leaders appear to agree that they can pass the bill if it is fixed.

Also in the measure are tax cuts. One would trim business property taxes paid to the state more than $56 million, while another would cut farmland taxes $44 million.

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