The 2017 Legislative Session might have gone down as one of the most productive in recent memory. More likely, it will be remembered for the governor that didn’t have the honor and self-confidence to live with the compromises that he and his team negotiated.
Several of the predictions made by the panel at our Spring Conversation almost came true. The panelists predicted that negotiations would proceed during the final week of the session, and no special session would be needed. In fact, the negotiations between the Republican legislative leaders and the Governor and his staff went down to the wire. A short extension was required to sort out the details, but the Governor ultimately signed the budget bills. A government shutdown was avoided.
This should have signaled a triumph for all. Instead, Gov. Dayton exercised a veto of a line item that funds the legislature after July 2017. His intent is to force the Legislature back to the bargaining table to secure more of the DFL hot-button items (reduced tax cuts, licenses for undocumented aliens, tighter teacher credentials) -- items that he had agreed to forego in the earlier negotiations. In the June 3 opinion section of the Star Tribune, a thoughtful article written by Paul Gazelka and Kurt Daudt details why he’s wrong.
While the Republicans achieved some important goals this session, they clearly did not achieve everything. Not all of the budget surplus was allocated for roads and bridges and for tax cuts. Republicans did not get tax credits for private school scholarships (OAK), and harsher penalties for blocking highways and other transportation hubs were not included in the final bills. While not all that he wanted, Dayton got more money for his personal crusade for pre-K education.
As former Senate Minority Leader David Hann said during the Spring Conversation, Dayton simply doesn’t know how to negotiate – he doesn’t “”get” the concept that both sides need to be happy at the end.
While the major media in Minnesota have been largely silent on Dayton’s potentially unconstitutional action, we can hope that Minnesotans let the governor know that he should accept what he got and be done with it.