Costly Mediation

Mediation sessions between Gov. Mark Dayton and leaders of the Legislature are costing taxpayers hundreds of dollars per hour, but the public has little chance of learning what is happening.

The political leaders began closed-door meetings with a mediator Thursday in hopes of ending a budget dispute that has held up funding for House and Senate operations. The mediation was ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which wants at least a status report by the end of the month.

Dayton and the Republicans who are in charge of both chambers are part of the mediation being held at a Minneapolis law firm and overseen by retired Judge Rick Solum. Dayton told reporters Wednesday that what goes on in the room will stay in the room.

The mediator is being paid $257 per hour and the private attorneys for both sides are also earning legal fees ranging from $300 an hour to $500 an hour.

If the mediation is fruitful and produces a deal, an agreement would be subject to ratification by the Legislature during a probable special session. If the sides fail to work things out, the case will be squarely back in the hands of Supreme Court justices.

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