MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are back home this week after a grueling five-month legislative session, passing a two-year, $48-billion budget.
That budget deal came together after round-the-clock negotiations behind closed doors between just three top Republicans and Democrats. Now, some lawmakers are pushing to open up those secret budget meetings.READ MORE: Where Does Minnesota's Power Come From?
“As far as the governor, the speaker, and myself working together, that would be an A”, said Sen. Paul Gazelka, (R) Majority Leader. “As far as the end product, probably a B.”
The politically-divided legislature passed a state budget without the poisonous rhetoric of recent years. But the deal got done in secret — alienating many from both parties.
“This obviously was a very contentious nontransparent session,” said Rep. Kurt Daudt, (R) Minority Leader.
Virtually the entire $48-billion budget was hammered out by three top lawmakers. One state Senator says it ought to be against the law.
“If this really is a government of, by and for the people, it should be done in the public eye,” said Sen. John Marty, (DFL) Roseville.READ MORE: Thieves Target High-End Liquor In Downtown Mpls. Restaurant Burglaries
He has introduced a bill to make all meetings open to the public– even sensitive budget talks.
Gazelka is not unsympathetic, but like his DFL counterparts, he says in secret they are more free to say things they would never say in public.
“But there are times when I think it is probably true for 100 years or longer, that there are places that you have to be vulnerable and say, “What if we did this?” And you’d never want people to know that you have asked for that because your base would tear you apart!” Gazelka said.
Opening up all meetings at the legislature is not as unusual as some people think.
The State of Florida has a “Sunshine Law” for more than 50 years.MORE NEWS: How Do Minnesota's Vaccination Efforts Stack Up To Other States?
All meetings must be held in public, and whatever decisions are made in private are not valid.