No DFL votes for finance bill, say Bakk and Thissen

DFL legislative leaders made it clear this afternoon that they’re not going to make things easy for Republicans in the special session called to end the state shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen gave some clues to what their DFL caucuses plan to do when the action gets rolling tonight on the 12 bills scheduled to be heard.

They said they expect there will be no DFL votes for the finance bill, which calls for $700 million in tobacco borrowing and $700 in shifts of education funds to school districts. The plan to add those $1.4 billion to the budget was used by Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders as a last-ditch effort to resolve the state shutdown, now in it 19th day.

DFLers clearly plan to paint the borrow-and-spend solution as a Republican plan, when it comes time for all legislators to run for office next year.

“This was not the governor’s first choice,” Thissen said. “It’s the Republican’s plan, absolutely.”

“It was a courageous thing for the governor to take the Republican’s final offer [made the day before the shutdown began]. We’ll let the people of Minnesota decide who was right in 2012,” Bakk said.

The two DFL leaders said there will be some DFL votes for some of the spending bills that must be passed in order to resolve the state shutdown.

“But there will be no votes for the Health and Human Services bill. The cuts there are really serious,” Bakk said.

They said the $498 million bonding bill will get some DFL votes, although Bakk himself said he was leery about it because it’s inadequate. He wanted a bigger bill, and says he’s uncertain how many Republicans will support it.

“Republicans say they have the votes to pass borrowing money to balance the budget, but will they really want to vote for two borrowing bills [the finance bill and the bonding bill] tonight?” he wondered.

Bakk said he was a bit surprised that Republicans weren’t ready to start voting right away when the two bodies were called to order shortly after 3 p.m.

Instead, they immediately adjourned to meet in caucus, presumably to further discuss the makeup of the bills, which were hastily drafted in the past few days, after an agreement in principle by Dayton and Republican leaders. They called it a “framework.”

Only four of the 12 bills set that will be discussed and voted upon in the special session had been posted online in advance and were available for members to read, but the other eight were not.

“We were prepared to vote on those four bills at 3 p.m.,” Bakk said.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Dan Beck on 07/19/2011 - 06:42 pm.

    It’s really a shame that there will be no DFL votes for the budget legislation negotiated by the governor and the legislative leadership. Makes the DFL look rigid, doctrinaire and, well, unwilling to compromise. And there’s the political risk for democrats. The conventional wisdom in some quarters seems to be that the DFL will be able to “blame” republicans for this budget, but what if the people of Minnesota reach the conclusion that this is really an equitable compromise? Passed with no DFL votes? Then it will be republicans who get to take the credit for ending the shutdown. Think about that.

  2. Submitted by Nathan Fisher on 07/19/2011 - 11:49 pm.

    Dan, there will be DFL votes for many of the spending bills since the spending bills in some cases represent a equitable middle ground between the two sides’ opening positions. However, the revenue bill doesn’t deserve a single DFL vote since it “balances” the budget by borrowing money from K-12 schoolchildren. This is nothing more than an accounting gimmick, and no fiscally responsible legislator should vote for this bill. If the revenue bill passes and the state is funded through these smoke and mirrors, the GOP majority will have to answer to Minnesotans why they chose to fund the state government by cheating schoolchildren out of $700 million rather than raise taxes on the 0.3% of Minnesotans most able to afford it. It’s certainly terrible policy, and very few Minnesotans will try to argue otherwise.

  3. Submitted by Brian Nelson on 07/20/2011 - 02:57 am.

    Dan Beck is apparently a stranger to irony. Rigid, doctrinaire, and unwilling to compromise? Which party makes its members sign petitions promising to never, ever, even under circumstances of certain death, raise taxes against the wealthiest people in the state or nation? Look at the polls. The people want a balanced solution. That means tax increases and spending cuts. Compromise would mean a solution containing both measures.

  4. Submitted by Dan Beck on 07/20/2011 - 07:57 am.

    For the record, I thought the proposals put forward by the bi-partisan “elder statesmen” commission provided a great road map that could have led to a compromise that would have reduced borrowing by increasing revenues. It was unfortunate that the governor rejected that commission’s plan for more broad-based tax increases. I believe that a compromise proposal from Dayton that included that framework might have garnered support among a small (but sufficient) number of moderate republicans. But that’s all water over the dam…

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