ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt says he's not optimistic the Legislature will pass relief for double-digit health insurance premium hikes in a special session.

Daudt cut short a legislative conference in the U.S. Virgin Islands to return to St. Paul on Thursday as state lawmakers scramble for a deal to help shoppers bracing for huge price increases next year. Dayton singled out Daudt's absence earlier this week.

The rough plan would use excess funds to buy down premiums for shoppers who don't get federal assistance. Lawmakers have also explored reviving failed tax and public construction bills from this year.

Daudt blamed Gov. Mark Dayton for the standstill during a Friday news conference. He says the governor has made several demands in the public works bill that are unacceptable.