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Gov. Mark Dayton wastes no time in vetoing GOP's $900M deficit-cutting bill

It took Gov. Mark Dayton all of an afternoon to veto this session’s first piece of passed legislation.

Despite a resounding call for bipartisanship in Wednesday’s State of the State address, Dayton today vetoed a high-profile Republican bill that would have cut $900 million from next biennium’s projected $6.2 billion budget deficit.

The measure also directed state agencies to trim $100 million from their budgets before the end of this fiscal year.

The governor’s quick action prompted House Majority Leader Matt Dean to say, “It would’ve been nice if he’d slept on it, right?”

The bill, which passed through the Legislature along partisan lines this afternoon, aimed to continue spending cuts in Local Government Aid, higher education and health and human services that were enacted last budget cycle.

Dayton, a critic of the legislation since its inception, said his veto stemmed from “three strong objections”: inevitable property tax increases, Republicans’ inaccurate assumptions about state agency cash reserves left in this biennium and its “piecemeal approach” to balancing the budget.

“I didn’t invite this legislation,” Dayton said. “I think it underlines that the Legislature is acting with extreme rashness.”

According to Dayton, the measure would result in a $428 million property tax increase over the next biennium, an assertion that Sen. Claire Robling disputed, pointing to cities and counties that didn’t add levies after last year’s cuts. Republican legislative leaders quickly shot back at Dayton for the veto.

From their reaction, it sounds like working together will be a bit harder in the future.

“We’re going to have a clash,” said the GOP's Geoff Michel, chairman of the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth Committee. “Apparently the Pawlenty veto pen still has some ink in it.”

Robling, R-Jordan, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, echoed other GOP leaders in calling the bill an important step toward tackling the mountainous state shortfall.

“Have we ever seen a budget deficit like this?” Robling asked. “These are historic times.”

Still, Dayton said he agreed with portions of the Republican proposal — up to a point. In a letter directed to state agency heads, Dayton asked for a review of remaining agency funds and for them to identify any possible cost savings for this biennium.

But, he called the bill’s $100 million directive not only unconstitutional, but also said the amount was “purely fictitious.”

The DFL Party quickly issued a statement praising the veto and commending Dayton  for standind up "for middle-class Minnesotans today."

 The party said: “The Republicans promised reform and an all-cuts budget solution. But this bill was far from a solution and it would certainly raise taxes ... It’s just more of the same flawed policies of the past that squeezed our middle class with higher property taxes, higher tuition, and higher fees."

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Comments (7)

I guess we will have to wait until next week to see the Dayton “tax and spend, special interest pay-off dominated budget.”

Although Dayton would like to try and balance the budget with taxes alone, he will have to make “cuts.” We will see if the DFL will then embrace the cuts they now oppose.

Dayton's veto letter is excellent and well worth reading in its entirety.

Just one tidbit:

TPaw veto: Feb 18, 2010 “Legislation that appropriates significant funds cannot be passed in a piecemeal fashion, balanced budget solution must first be reached.”

The two-faced double standard of the GOP in this matter is remarkable. This is not gang warfare and they had better recognize this fact soon or there will be many one termers in the legislature.

I am as partisan as they come. Let's just say my dog isn't the only Democrat in the house that's yellow. And I yield to no one in my love for political posturing, and yes, even grandstanding, and a lot of that happened within the last few days to my intense enjoyment. And I will be looking forward to even more as the current legislative session proceeds.

That said, I am hoping that it will soon be time for the legislature and the governor to sit down and work constructively together on the problems that face us all. For way too long, what we have tried to do as a state is just get through the next day, or for the long range planners among us, the next paycheck. The goal has been to slow Minnesota's decline. This isn't nearly good enough. It's time to solve, not defer, problems. It's time to make Minnesota great again. In this modern 21st century world, there is not treading water. The choice is between swimming and sinking.

From MPR

...Republicans in both the House and Senate say they won't waste any time working on a budget solution. They say their biggest concern is waiting until the end of session to get a budget deal done, and the danger that time will run out without an agreement...
(end quote)

A day or so after the faux outrage over the mention by Dayton of a "shutdown", the Republicans start hinting at a "shutdown".

As a true conservative, I want to thank Governor Dayton for taking a principled stand against ad hoc ideologues who should have waited for his budget plan before putting their hands in the cookie jar and taking money from the pockets of every Minnesotan. As a true conservative, I apologize to all Minnesotans for such hooliganism. Thank the Lord we have Governor Dayton standing between these right-wing extremists and middle-class Minnesotans. I for one have learned my lesson, like most true conservatives, and will vote straight Democrat in 2012.

Well stated Mr Gleason.
It is interesting to note that Republicans want to rely on cash reserves when Gov Pawlenty raided every reserve he could find to keep his no new taxes pledge.

"Despite a resounding call for bipartisanship in Wednesday’s State of the State address, Dayton today vetoed a high-profile Republican bill that would have cut $900 million from next biennium’s projected $6.2 billion budget deficit."--James Nord

Mark Dayton did indeed plead for bipartisanship in his SoS speech. He did so in part in light of the majority's extreme partisanship in ramming through that ill-considered bill without key committee hearings, minority input, or consulting with the governor. Mr Dayton was right to veto it.

Mr Nord, either your ignorance or your biases are showing.