ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has avoided a shutdown for most of the state government, but left state lawmakers out to dry.
The governor signed nine budget bills Tuesday afternoon, allowing for most government workers in Minnesota to breathe a sigh of relief. However, Gov. Dayton did issue a line-item veto for the legislature’s own budget for at least the next two years.
The governor said lawmakers can only get that money if they reconvene for a Special Session and eliminate a few provisions of those budget bills. Gov. Dayton said he won’t even call that Special Session until lawmakers agree to a few preconditions over tobacco taxes, estate taxes and property taxes.
The governor’s move allows the state government to back away from the ledge of a government shutdown, but still gives him room to eliminate portions of the budget he objects to.
Dayton still made good on a promise to veto the legislature’s “preemption bill,” which would have prevented cities and local governments from setting their own labor laws, like paid sick leave and the minimum wage. He also let a $650 million tax cut become law without his signature.
In a joint news conference after the governor’s statement, Republican legislative leaders Kurt Daudt and Paul Gazelka questioned the constitutionality of the governor’s action, hinting at a challenge in court.
Before Dayton acted, Republican leaders did a victory lap around the state, declaring “gridlock unlocked.”
“I think the session was an historic win for Minnesota, and I am looking forward to the governor singing the bills,” Republican House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin said.
The decisions came amid strong pressure, including groups who wanted a veto of the ban on undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses. The state’s teachers union urged a veto of the E-12 bill, and the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee said the transportation bill under-funds statewide roads and transit.
“This bill is woefully inadequate,” Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said. “We have a 50-year old road system that’s falling apart. The amount of resources in the bill doesn’t even keep up with the bare minimum we need for maintenance.”
Republicans call the just-ended session “historic,” beginning a statewide fly-around.
“We worked all the way to the end, and even past the deadline, because we wanted them to be done,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said. “We all had to give something. The governor gave things. We gave things. In the end, you both get a little bit. You both give a little bit. But we feel like it’s very good for Minnesota.”