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Political shenanigans: Don’t waste taxpayer money on theatrics

Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican legislative leaders are now embroiled in what could be a costly and trust-eroding legal battle.

What we end up with is a race to the bottom of bad faith negotiating.
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach

The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.

Just when Minnesotans thought the DFL and GOP would finally get along and pass a compromise budget with something for everybody, the two sides snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.

A new political imbroglio between Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP-controlled Legislature threatens to saddle Minnesotans with legal costs and increase the degree of animosity that already exists.

Dayton and the Legislature agreed on a budget that offers reasonable compromises and keeps Minnesota government working for the people. For that, both sides deserve credit.

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But a provision in the tax bill that removed funding from the Department of Revenue if Dayton didn’t sign the bill was ill-advised at best and deceptive at worst. Republicans argue that provision was in every draft of the bill Dayton and his team received and that Dayton could have objected to it far earlier in the process. Dayton claims his team didn’t see it, in part, because they got the bill too late to review. This claim is shaky as well.

So Dayton reacted, some say retaliated, by using his line-item veto power to cut funding for the Legislature itself, saying if the Legislature wants him to restore funding, they must renegotiate parts of the tax bill and some other provisions in other bills.

The Legislature is considering legal action. But law experts say the Legislature’s quid pro quo provision was likely unconstitutional. It can’t restrict the power the governor already retains or use financial coercion. Dayton’s veto would be a tougher case for lawyers to argue since a line item veto is perfectly legal.

So what we end up with is a race to the bottom of bad faith negotiating.

Dayton’s veto cannot be undone, so it’s hard to see how the problem can be solved without a special session. But with bad faith now part of the discourse, the special session certainly be contentious.

If the GOP sues Dayton over the veto, Dayton may well countersue for the “poison pill” provision. The only Minnesotans who gain will be the lawyers trying the case.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

A brief special session should not include renegotiating all the provisions every DFL constituency didn’t like about the education bill or the public safety bill.

Dayton and his team should have seen the quid pro quo provision and objected to it earlier. Republicans should have known it was not going to pass constitutional muster.

Both sides owe Minnesotans an apology for these political shenanigans. But more than that, they owe Minnesotans the effort to go back one more time and strike a reasonable compromise on the tax bill to get the Legislature funded and the government working.

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Republished with permission.


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