‘Marathon’ budget discussions break off ‘abruptly’ on Day 3

MORNING EDITION

Well, apparently that didn’t go very well. Those “marathon discussions” between dogs and cats — excuse me, Republicans and Democrats — broke off “abruptly” Sunday after Friday and Saturday sessions, says Don Davis of the Forum papers. “Minnesota budget talks mysteriously ended [Sunday] afternoon, and negotiators refused to say why they broke off as the state faces a potential Friday government shutdown. ‘Until we have come to completion on the budget’ those involved will not talk, House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said. Republican spokesmen said they knew of no further meetings planned among Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders. It was not clear if the meeting broke up because of disagreements among the parties or if negotiations could continue Monday. ‘Talks have concluded for the day,’ Senate GOP spokesman Michael Brodkorb said little more than an hour after they began, adding that he did not know the circumstances.”

Martiga Lohn and Patrick Condon of the AP offer a little “then” and “now” comparison of the 2005 shutdown and today.

A sample: “Public pain:
Then. Highway rest areas closed, driver’s license exams and other services halted and 9,000 state workers were locked out of their jobs. But the shutdown’s reach was limited because budgets for parks, courts, prisons, colleges, farm programs and tax collectors were already in place. A judge ordered the state to continue providing services to protect health, safety and property.
Now. Minnesota’s second shutdown would reach across state government, closing state parks to campers and day visitors as the Independence Day holiday weekend starts, stopping road projects at the height of the construction season and throwing tens of thousands of state employees out of work. It would also halt more obscure functions of government, such as licensing for teachers and other professionals and permits for businesses. Only a small sliver of the budget would be unaffected — Dayton and lawmakers approved $76 million for farm programs back in April.”

Outgoing U of M President Bob Bruininks continued his farewell interview tour with a talk with Doug Belden of the PiPress: “He has a few regrets, he says, including not being able to secure funding for a new Bell Museum of Natural History and not being able to convince enough state leaders of the importance of higher education. ‘Minnesota has an attention-deficit disorder on what really matters in the global economy,’ he said. ‘You can’t just cut yourself to the future.’ During Bruininks’ term, state aid to the U has fluctuated and now sits about 4 percent lower than when he started (with substantial reductions proposed for the next two years). Tuition has nearly doubled. A couple of years ago, the U passed a key milestone when revenue from tuition surpassed the state’s contribution. Bruininks said side issues sometimes overtook the important things going on during his term. ‘I do think we had way too much turmoil’ over the Central Corridor light-rail line’s route through campus, he said, and ‘I think sports were overblown.’ ” On that cutting thing … who says we’re trying to get to the future?

Now, I’m sorry. The exclamation that “You can’t make this stuff up” is overused. No question about it. But, come on! A recently re-elected Wisconsin Supreme Court justice accused of choking another justice over the ruling upholding the union-busting legislation? Three Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporters pitch in to tell the tale:

Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley late Saturday accused fellow Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold during a dispute in her office earlier this month. ‘The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold,’ Bradley told the Journal Sentinel. Sources told the Journal Sentinel two very different stories Saturday about what occurred. Some confirmed Bradley’s version. According to others, Bradley charged Prosser, who raised his hands to defend himself and made contact with her neck. A joint investigation by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism first reported on the incident early Saturday, stating that Prosser ‘allegedly grabbed’ Bradley around the neck. Before Bradley spoke to the Journal Sentinel, Prosser issued a statement that said: ‘Once there’s a proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear, the anonymous claim made to the media will be proven false. Until then I will refrain from further public comment.’ … Infighting has plagued the court in recent years and often spilled into the public. The court’s rancor became a campaign issue for Prosser this spring, but he insisted he was not the cause of the problem. He said during debates that he was confident the internal disputes on the court would fade quickly once he was re-elected. Prosser acknowledged in March that he called [Chief Justice Shirley] Abrahamson a ‘bitch’ and threatened to ‘destroy’ her during a closed-door meeting. … ‘They (Abrahamson and Bradley) are masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements. This is bullying and abuse of very, very long standing.” I say, “On! Wisconsin!”

But then we have this … from the Strib’s Matt McKinney: “Ednel D. Diedrich, 19, of the 10000 block of Orchard Trail N., told police afterwards that he didn’t care that he nearly killed the man, who he said was ‘annoying,’ police said. Diedrich was charged with one count of first-degree assault. He is being held at the Hennepin County jail. His victim was taken to North Memorial Hospital for emergency brain surgery, according to court documents. Diedrich told investigators that he had been upset all night because the other man had eaten a doughnut that Diedrich bought.”

Ol’ Sooch’s Sunday column returned to a favorite theme … all the “dependents” leeching on to gummint money. Says Joe Soucheray in the PiPress: “Here is what has happened and why [Judge] Gearin’s courtroom was packed. Kids used to stage a play in somebody’s garage. They printed up tickets, and somebody made popcorn to sell, and the actors and actresses hid their lines in the bucket that Cinderella used to clean the floor. Today? Well, the garage might contain harmful levels of lead and various petroleum products, which are monitored by inspectors and code enforcers; the tickets need to be printed by a licensed print shop; the actors have a union; and the popcorn represents an assault on childhood obesity, which is confirmed by a growing number of government dieticians and library-rec center health counselors. And each of these prohibitions symbolically speaks to hundreds, if not thousands, of employees who have become dependent on public money for their livelihoods.” Those dieticians and counselors would be so much more useful grooming the greens at the Town & Country Club. As contract employees, of course.

Of course the PiPress editorial board, or whatever, did take the position over the weekend, “Though both sides have compromised, the governor seems to have had the better of the ‘I compromised and they didn’t’ spin. But it’s not that simple. Rather than work out differences and sign off on large portions of the budget on which agreement is within reach, Dayton has as of this writing refused to get deals done and preserve operations in those parts of government. This is not compromise. This is hostage taking.”

MPR’s Mark Zdecklik was in Iowa covering Our Favorite Congresswoman’s latest grand re-entrance to her other home state. How many times have you heard a variation on this quote from adoring fans of Congresswoman Bachmann or Sarah Palin? “Carole Deeds was also at the Bachmann rally. Deeds was wearing a hat decorated with several tea bags, indicating her support for the tea party. She drove to Waterloo from nearby Cedar Falls. Deeds said she likes Bachmann’s concentration on the constitution. Deeds said Bachmann is appealing because she comes across like a regular person. ‘She seems to reach out as an average person, as one of us,’ she said. ‘And she’s a mother of five children and they had all of these foster children, so they’ve really given a lot of their lives personally to helping children and that’s the future.’ A new Des Moines Register poll shows Bachmann running neck and neck with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney among likely Iowa caucus-goers. Twenty-three percent support Romney and 22 percent support Bachmann, according to the poll. Tim Pawlenty had the support of just 6 percent of those polled, despite numerous appearances in Iowa.” T-Paw needs to be more regular.

The resignation of Gophers golf coach John Harris Friday led to a Sunday piece by Brian Murphy in the PiPress. Harris is being sued for $200,000 by a former assistant coach who says Harris marginalized her because she’s a lesbian. “In his first extensive comments since the scandal erupted last December, Harris accuses [Kathryn] Brenny of defamation and shaking down him and the university by claiming he prevented her from coaching and traveling with the women’s team last fall because she is a lesbian. ‘My decision to step away from coaching at the university is based on a variety of factors concerning how my wife and I choose to live our lives going forward,’ Harris wrote in a statement he emailed to the Pioneer Press. ‘If anyone assumes my decision is based on the Brenny case, they would be mistaken. I have been defamed unfairly, I believe, by Ms. Brenny and her law firm for financial gain and as part of an effort to obtain publicity for themselves. I am confident it will, in due course, be established that their effort to make me a party to this suit violates Minnesota law.’ Harris, who played hockey under Herb Brooks and was a two-time All-America golfer in 1971-74, resigned Friday, less than a year after returning to his alma mater to oversee the men’s and women’s golf program. Brenny is suing him in Hennepin County for $200,000, with discrimination and nepotism at the heart of her complaint. The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 12.”

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/27/2011 - 07:34 am.

    What discussions?

    My understanding that the first two days of the meetings were laying out the budget needs of the individual departments. It was laying the groundwork for subsequent discussion.

    On Sunday, they came to the nut of the disagreement–the total of the budget. And presumably because the Republicans said “not one penny more”, the meetings ended.

    How could it be otherwise?

  2. Submitted by Diane Clare on 06/27/2011 - 09:25 am.

    Facts
    1. Governor Dayton was presented a balanced budget.
    2. Governor Dayton vetoed a balanced budget.
    3. Governor Dayton keeps saying it can’t be balanced without new revenue.
    4. Legislature says “no” to new taxes.
    5. Legislature says “no” to non sustainable auto-pilot government funding.
    6. The balanced budget presented to Governor Dayton, and that he vetoed, was the largest in MN history.

  3. Submitted by Dan Vogel on 06/27/2011 - 09:34 am.

    In regards to Dayton not passing bills that all agree on. The Republicans have shot themselves in the foot here. Agriculture was agreed to but then in a subsequent bill the Republicans plan to cut 15% of state workers across the board including Agriculture. So why should Dayton agree to anything until everything is agreed on.

  4. Submitted by Josh Williams on 06/27/2011 - 11:21 am.

    Diane, a few mistakes in your list of “facts”

    3. Dayton has not said that the budget cannot be balanced without new revenue, has said it SHOULD NOT be balanced without new revenue. This is a value statement, not a factual one. Which brings me to…

    5. The Legislature (specifically, the Republican majority) has said no to increased revenue, but you characterization of “non sustainable auto-pilot government funding” is also a value statement. You call it auto-pilot spending, I call it viewing society as a joint venture, and sharing in the costs and obligations, even when it is personally inconvenient.

  5. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 06/27/2011 - 12:06 pm.

    Diane, your oversimplified version of the dispute ignores the fact that Pawlenty’s last budget used one-time money from the feds and shifted money from K-12 education in order to fill in funding gaps. It ignores inflation. It ignores our aging population and their growing needs.

    Sometimes boiling things down to their simplest form is not an effective way to deal with a complicated problem.

  6. Submitted by will lynott on 06/27/2011 - 12:20 pm.

    #2, here’s some more Facts:
    1. The legislature in 2009 presented TP with a balanced budget.
    2. TP vetoed that balanced budget and then went on to use unallotment in a way later found to be illegal.

    Not only that…

    3. Governor Dayton presented the legislature with a balanced budget four months ago.
    4. The Rs voted down the Governor’s balanced budget, although they took three months to get around to it, having piddled away much of that time on culture war legislation they had previously foresworn and that they knew the Governor would not sign. Yup, they sure were “focused like a laser” on the deficit.
    5. The fact that this year’s budget will be the largest in history is a meaningless conservative talking point. That has been true of successive budgets since time immemorial. And it’s necessary because of inflation, population increases, the increased demand for government services, and the increase in people who need government assistance due to conservative policies.

    The Governor is requesting the same thing TP did–a budget he can sign. Mere presentation of a budget has never meant it was acceptable.

  7. Submitted by Brian Simon on 06/27/2011 - 12:30 pm.

    “T-Paw needs to be more regular.”

    Would more tea help?

    Scratch that.

    I’m thinking of coffee.

  8. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 06/27/2011 - 02:00 pm.

    Diane, since you like things “simple”, answer this question….For 8 years a Dem. legislature offered up a budget that wasn’t what they wanted but one they knew the Rep. Guv would sign.

    Now that the roles are reversed, why won’t your (Tea) party do the same?

  9. Submitted by David Greene on 06/27/2011 - 02:27 pm.

    @Diane

    The Republicans did not present a balanced budget. They presented a budget put together with toothpicks and duct tape by accountants outside the official budgeting process. No one I have talked to, especially state department heads, believes those numbers.

    The Republican proposal is not the largest state budget in history. It is in fact about $400 million less than last biennium’s budget. See the proof here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/polinaut/archive/2011/04/post.shtml

  10. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 06/27/2011 - 04:29 pm.

    We don’t know what Dayton, Koch, and Zellers say to each other behind closed doors, but we do know the issue: the “compromise is weakness” Republicans won’t budge one bit on tax increases. They got elected on a no-tax platform, and Dayton got elected on a high-tax platform. Between Dayton and Horner, 55% voted for a candidate promising to raise taxes. That’s a bigger percentage of the vote than MNGOP legislators received. Dislike the split result all we like, but there has to be a meeting in the middle. That’s just what grownups do. Dayton has moved quite a bit, but the Republicans can’t figure out they can’t have everything. I’ll believe they think their position is right, but Dayton is sure his position is right. Do the adult thing and split the difference.

  11. Submitted by will lynott on 06/27/2011 - 06:41 pm.

    #10, Dayton has already tried splitting the difference. I assume you mean it’s now time for the Rs to meet him in the middle, where he now resides.

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