Governor Mark Dayton just said no to all the Republican omnibus bills over the past week. Notice, I said Republican omnibus bills – because these bills were all about partisanship and not at all about consensus or compromise, and most of all, they were not about what’s best for Minnesota.
Republicans waited until the last weeks of the session to even say what they wanted in their budget bills.
Then, when Governor Dayton tried to talk, they refused to compromise. On anything.
Within a couple of days, they stopped even pretending to negotiate – just stopped talking and passed their bills.
Governor Dayton vetoed finance/appropriations bills:
- Omnibus environment and natural resources finance
- Omnibus health and human services finance
- Omnibus veterans and military affairs appropriations
- Omnibus state government appropriations
- Omnibus E-12 education finance
- Omnibus agriculture and housing appropriations
- Omnibus jobs, commerce, energy, labor and industry, and amployment and economic development appropriations
- Omnibus higher education appropriations and policy
- Omnibus judiciary and public safety,
- Omnibus tax bill
- Omnibus transportation finance
While these are technically budget bills, Republicans have stuffed them with policy provisions, so that signing off on the budget means signing off on, say, an end to local authority to pass ordinances about wages and working conditions.
And, while Minnesota expects a $1.65 billion surplus in the next biennium, Republicans want to cut spending on non-essentials like education and public safety, and spend the money on tax cuts instead of services.
In non-budget areas, Dayton vetoed bills
- limiting abortion (“Our place is not between a woman and her doctor.”)
- removing state regulatory oversight from rural electric cooperative fees,
- limiting local ability to pass interim ordinances relating to housing,
- allowing county law library funds to be used for courthouse construction.
Dayton also said he would definitely veto legislation restricting local governments’ ability to raise minimum wages or set sick time provisions.
Senator John Marty summed it up nicely in the Star Tribune:
“A veto is a brick wall they can’t get around, unless they have the votes to override him…. A governor gets to take things off the table and keep them off. If he says something isn’t in the best interest of Minnesota, he doesn’t have to negotiate. He can just say no as many times as necessary to make that stick.”
Why did the Republicans refuse to negotiate? Two reasons have been widely suggested:
1) Republicans want to claim that they “did their work on time” and can’t be blamed for a government shutdown on July 1.
2) They thought the governor was bluffing and wouldn’t really veto their “my way or the highway” legislation.
Wrong on both counts.
Now the legislature has until May 22 to figure out how to pass bills that the governor will sign. If they don’t come to an agreement before the session ends, the governor could call a special session – but he’s likely to do that only if they have an agreement ahead of time. If not – the money runs out and the state faces another shutdown on July 1.
For more information:
Veto Details, Minnesota Legislature – links to text or bills and to text of governor’s veto messages
Regarding vetoes: Dayton, a former goalie, learns to fully block the net (Lori Sturdevant, Star Tribune, 5/13/17)