Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Partial government shutdown possible

Legislators will have much left to accomplish in special session after vetoes of several major spending bills

Tom Klein
Posted 5/28/15

REGIONAL– Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a handful of spending bills, laying the groundwork for a special legislative session and taking steps for a potential partial government shutdown.

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Partial government shutdown possible

Legislators will have much left to accomplish in special session after vetoes of several major spending bills

Posted

REGIONAL– Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a handful of spending bills, laying the groundwork for a special legislative session and taking steps for a potential partial government shutdown.

On Saturday, Dayton vetoed spending bills for agriculture, environment, jobs, economic development and energy. He already had rejected an education spending bill, putting nearly $17.5 billion of the state’s $42 billion, two-year budget that begins July 1 on the table.

Dayton met with House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, on Tuesday and has indicated he would like a special session by mid-June.

But the agenda for the session has grown more complicated, raising questions about whether lawmakers can reach a deal that has eluded them for the past five months.

Republicans blasted Dayton’s cluster of vetoes.

“The DFL-led Senate and Republican-led House made every effort to accommodate his requests,” said Daudt.

Several were skeptical an agreement could be reached in time to avoid a partial government shutdown.

“Historically, governors don’t call a special session unless there is rock-solid agreement among the leadership,” said Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township. “Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and Speaker Daudt have a cordial relationship. But the governor doesn’t seem to be in that triangle. That’s going to make this very complicated.”

“We’re on a whole new journey,” said Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake. “It’s in the hands of the governor, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk and House Speaker Kurt Daudt.”

Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, said he was surprised by the number of spending bills the governor vetoed, but said reaching agreement on the major issues is possible if all parties are willing to negotiate.

That didn’t happen during the regular session, he said, where Republicans took a hard line on several fronts.

He pointed to the Legislature’s failure to come up with a package to fund the state’s transportation needs for the long term and inability to agree on a tax bill, which stalls any increase in Local Government Aid and property tax reform.

“Taking care of the needs of Greater Minnesota was one of the key talking points at the start of the session,” said Metsa. But it vanished as the session wore on and GOP legislators pressed for more tax breaks, he said. “In the end, Greater Minnesota got very little.”

Anzelc agreed and said it was the fault of hardliners on both sides of the aisle.

“There are 134 members in the House with 72 Republicans and 62 Democrats. About 22 of those Republicans are rigid conservatives and about 20 of the DFLers are the really left-leaning old guard. That creates a lot of difficulties in getting bills out of committees. There was never going to be an agreement on a gas tax and other spending issues with that makeup.”

Dayton said he will insist lawmakers pass a public works finance measure and that they okay a “legacy bill” to fund outdoors and arts projects. He also wants language removed that would make it easier for governments to hire private firms to conduct audits now performed by the State Auditor’s Office.

In exchange, the governor said he will offer a $260 million income tax cut for one year. House Republicans had proposed slashing taxes by $2 billion, but dropped the demand when they squashed a proposed gas tax increase by Democrats. The governor tied the tax break to an agreement to increase general pupil aid by two-percent each year of the next budget cycle.

Dayton is also trying to drum up support for his universal pre-K program. But Dill said the issue hasn’t resonated with his constituents.

“I’ve received two emails for it and two against it,” he said. “I don’t have anyone really advocating for it here.”

If no deal among Dayton and the legislative leaders is reached by June 1, 10,288 state workers will get notices indicating they could be laid off in a month. If no deal is reached by June 15, the state parks will stop taking camping reservations, Dayton said.

Short of a court order, agencies that would have been funded in the vetoed bills could shut down July 1 if no money is approved for them in the special session.

An “incident team” has been formed to plan for a potential partial shutdown, according to Commissioner Myron Frans of the Minnesota Management and Budget Office.

Metsa hoped it doesn’t come to that.

“A special session puts a little more pressure on everyone to get the job done,” he said. “Hopefully, we can.”

Dill also expressed confidence, saying the Legislature had gotten its work done, but the governor wasn’t happy with the outcome.

“He has the upper hand because no one wants to get their hands dirty with a shutdown of some government services or a protracted special session,” said Dill.

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snowshoe2

Maybe if legislatures can't get the job done on time we should hire someone who could.

I heard they even voted for a bill that was different than the one they thought they were voting for,nobody read it.

Thursday, May 28, 2015