Political Notebook: Dayton, GOP leaders slated to start talking – Post-Bulletin
For the first time since the governor’s surprise move to defund the Minnesota Legislature, he and legislative leaders are slated to start talking.
A meeting between Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is planned for Tuesday morning, according to Matt Swenson, the governor’s assistant chief of staff for communications. The big question is whether the stand-off can be resolved around the negotiating table or if it will be settled in the courts.
It’s been nearly two weeks since the DFL governor announced his decision to sign off on the $46 billion budget passed by lawmakers but added one big catch — he line-item vetoed funding for the Legislature. Dayton was dismayed by a provision in the state government budget bill that would have defunded the Minnesota Department of Revenue if he didn’t sign a $650 million tax cut package. Rather than risk a partial government shutdown, Dayton opted to sign the tax bill and defund the Legislature instead. He said the move was aimed at getting Republican legislative leaders back to the negotiating table to discuss several items he dislikes in the bills he signed. That includes several tax cut provisions, changes to the state’s teacher licensure standards and a provision prohibiting undocumented immigrants from getting driver’s licenses. To make his case, Dayton has held press conferences across the state — including in Rochester.
Republicans argue the governor is violating the state Constitution by defunding a separate branch of government. (Dayton disputes that, saying the Constitution gives him the right to line-item veto any funding he chooses). GOP leaders say the governor also agreed in budget negotiations to all the items he is now seeking to renegotiate. Both Daudt and Gazelka say they are willing to talk with the governor, but they are not interested in rehashing items that had already been settled. The challenge for the public — and journalists — is that all of these negotiations happen behind closed doors, so there is no way to confirm exactly what happened.
If the issue isn’t resolved by July 1 — whether via negotiations or the courts — then money will stop flowing to the Minnesota House and Senate. Leaders have said they have enough money in reserves to operate for a short time after that. But when the money runs out, legislative staffers would be temporarily laid off. Paychecks would no longer be sent out to these employees — or to lawmakers.
A lack of trust
Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller said those wondering why Republicans would add language to a bill defunding the revenue department if the governor failed to sign the tax bill need only look to last year. In 2016, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a $260 million tax cut package that Dayton had said he would sign. But the governor ended up vetoing the bill instead, citing a $100 million error thanks to an “and” being put where an “or” should have been. The move angered Republicans and damaged their trust that the governor would negotiate in good faith.
“We felt from a legislative perspective it could have been fixed a number of different ways rather than vetoing the bill,” the Winona Republican said.
As a result, Miller said Republicans worried that even if the governor said he would sign the tax bill, he would go back on his word and veto it. Miller said he knew the revenue defunding language was in the state government budget bill before he voted on it. However, he said he was not part of the final decision to be put in the bill. He added that he the thought the governor’s office was aware it was in the measure. Dayton has said he did not know about it, and called it a “poison pill.”
Walz hosts roundtables
1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz is hosting a series of roundtables in Southeast Minnesota.
The roundtables are part of the Mankato Democrat’s “Southern Minnesota Way of Life Tour.” The listening events kick off at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Grand Meadow at the Grand Meadow Community Center. At 4 p.m. later that day, Walz will host another roundtable at the Houston Nature Center. On Wednesday, Walz has planned a 9:30 a.m. roundtable at Winona City Hall. The last roundtable begins at 1 p.m. at the Stewartville Civic Center. Walz’s office asks that residents interested in attending one of the roundtables RSVP by sending an email to WalzRSVP@mail.house.gov.
Meet Republican gubernatorial candidate
GOP gubernatorial candidate Blake Huffman is paying a visit to Rochester this week. Voters can meet Huffman at a “coffee talk” from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday at Cafe Steam, 315 S. Broadway. Huffman is a Ramsey County Commissioner. He is one of a number of Republicans who have announced they are running for governor in 2018 including Dellwood Rep. Matt Dean and 2016 gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson. Other GOPers mulling a bid include House Speaker Kurt Daudt, former Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey and Mound Sen. David Osmek. Several Democrats have already announced they are running such as St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Rochester Rep. Tina Liebling, St. Paul Rep. Erin Murphy, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and Walz.
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