House and Senate GOP leaders returned from today’s six-stop state fly-around to promote their $34 billion budget troubled that Gov. Mark Dayton had vetoed all the key bills but optimistic that a government shutdown could be prevented.
They expressed that view despite Dayton calling some freshmen Republicans “right-wing extremists” uninterested in governing. The govenror said that’s the reason neither side could compromise on Minnesota’s $5 billion budget deficit during the regular session.
The nine budget bill vetoes dropped as the GOP leaders were en route to Moorhead, Minn., as part of their effort to sell their view of state finances to activists, supporters, the press and some union workers.
“The book of vetoes we got today was disappointing from the standpoint of a lot of work over four and a half months [in session],” House Speaker Kurt Zellers said upon returning to St. Paul.
Republicans say they’ve proposed a balanced, business-friendly budget in contrast to what they say is Dayton’s tax-heavy, job-killing spending proposal.
The Republicans also indicated they wanted to work with Dayton quickly in a special session to avoid a government shutdown come July 1, the start of the new biennium.
Dayton, who was “pessimistic” about finishing on time in the first place, said earlier today that he thinks a shutdown is likely. No meetings are currently scheduled between lawmakers, and the governor said he won’t call a special session until agreement is reached over the entire budget.
“Talking about the shutdown scenario is awful,” Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel said. “We don’t think Gov. Dayton is going to take us on this path to a shutdown to spend more.”
They pointed to such bills as the K-12 budget legislation, where they were “within spittin’ distance of the governor’s own budget,” as Koch said, as areas where they wished there could be compromise.
Republicans were also disappointed with the govenror’s “extremist” comments.
“I have a very negative response to that because he’s talking about our members,” House Majority Leader Matt Dean said. “It takes an incredible amount of determination to [run].”
Kevin Watterson, a House GOP Staffer, tweeted shortly after: “[Rep.] Mike LeMeiur sells furnaces and fights fires. [Mark Dayton] says he’s an extremist.”
Tuesday’s political exchanges echoed much of the same messaging that dominated the final weeks of the legislative session, which wrapped up Monday.
When asked if he’s counting on a shutdown, Zellers responded, “No, not at all.”
“This isn’t a time to quit,” he said. “We just got done with session yesterday.”
Dean noted that perhaps the pressure on a new administration to prepare for a shutdown could weigh heavily enough to spur compromise.