ST. PAUL —The Minnesota Legislature must adjourn by midnight but is far from finishing its main work of the year: crafting a $48 billion, two-year budget.

As adjournment for the regulation session neared, it was not clear when legislators would return to the Capitol to pass budget legislation. House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, had said that legislators should plan on a one-day special session Thursday, May 23, but on Monday, she was not so sure.

“We don’t know,” she said. “There is a lot of working getting done today.”

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he only could promise the work would be done “before June.” And Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said he would be flexible in when lawmakers should be called back if leaders could reach an agreement on a budget deal.

“I’m more concerned that we get it right,” Walz said.

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Gazelka, Hortman and Walz had agreed that House-Senate conference committees would negotiate individual parts of the overall budget by 5 p.m. Monday. No committee made that deadline. There was little public evidence the work was getting done Monday, raising questions whether a special session could be called later this week.

However, a higher education funding bill reached the Senate and House floors before midnight. Containing new money for student grants, it passed the Senate 62-3 and the House 84-49.

The House passed the funding measure earlier, with a tuition freeze, but that was changed to a 3 percent cap at Minnesota State schools after negotiations with senators.

Only the governor can call a special session, but once it starts, it is up to lawmakers to end it.

Hortman said she, Walz and Gazelka “respected the role of the conference committee … to make decisions.” But one of the few meetings during business hours Monday showed the final day of the regular session was not going to be a smooth one.

In the committee charged with meshing House and Senate education budget proposals, Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, complained that a proposal offered by House Education Chairman Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, contained more Democratic provisions than Republican.

Soon after that, the committee recessed so Democrats and Republicans could hold their own private meetings to discuss how to wrap up the education budget. That ended their work for hours.

The same story played out around the Capitol complex as nearly a dozen conference committees were figuring out how to meet financial targets the governor and legislative leaders released Sunday night. Public meetings were few and far between.

Lobbyists, normally in the know around the Capitol, said they did not know what was happening Monday. Some suggested that the Sunday night deal could be falling apart.

Key legislative budget negotiators met with legislative leaders and the administration throughout much of Monday with updates about how work was going on the budget. But little occurred in public, even after the governor and leaders promised a “transparent” budget negotiation.

Lobbyists, normally in the know around the Capitol, said they did not know what was happening Monday. Some suggested that the Sunday night deal could be falling apart.

Key legislative budget negotiators apparently were meeting with legislative leaders and the administration throughout much of Monday with updates about how work was going on the budget. But little occurred in public, even after the governor and leaders promised a “transparent” budget negotiation.

House-Senate negotiations have gone on for days, but conference committees could make few budget decisions until their leaders wrapped up their high-level talks.

Most Minnesota legislators agreed with Rep. Ben Lien, DFL-Moorhead, who said leaders had been “light on details.”

Rank-and-file lawmakers on Monday were just beginning to learn about what Gazalka, Hortman and Walz discussed for more than a week behind closed doors. They needed to wait to see what House-Senate conference committees decided before knowing how their communities would fare.

As negotiations drug out longer than expected the past couple of weeks, Lien said, “my optimism waned.”

Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, said he has learned to make no important plans for June, just in case legislation gets delayed.

While the budget was supposed to be passed by midnight Monday, lawmakers must pass it by June 30 or state government could face a partial shutdown July 1 when it runs out of money.

“We are feeling our way through this,” Gazelka said.

While the governor and two legislative leaders told each budget committee how much it could spend, they left specifics up to the committees. And if negotiators want to fold in some non-spending policy items, they can do that.

However, if there are disagreements, Gazelka said, they will be kicked upstairs to the trio that made the major decisions.

If budget bills are not wrapped up, legislative leaders could form “working groups.” While they have no official authority, the panels could reach agreements on the budget issues and have bills ready for the special session.

Before bills are wrapped up, the Walz administration will need to approve them.

While legislators failed to get their main job finished on time, they did make some progress in recent days and could pass other provisions Monday. Among those expected to pass before the midnight deadline was one funding opioid abuse with $20 million a year.

They advanced a compromise proposal to collect a fee from opioid manufacturers to fund opioid treatment and education efforts.

Late Sunday, legislators approved a bill, expected to be signed into law, that provides new protections for elderly and vulnerable adults.

“The ability for older and vulnerable Minnesotans to receive the care they need in a dignified, safe living environment is a value we all share as Minnesotans,” Rep. Jen Schultz, DFL-Duluth, said. “An incredible amount of work went into this compromise.”

Minnesota does not currently license assisted living facilities; under the Schultz bill, the state would begin licensure.

The bill also provides stronger protection measures and puts uniform rules over all dementia care services. Plus, family members may install a camera to check on their care their loved ones receive in facilities.