Gov. Mark Dayton ‘pessimistic’ after morning budget meeting with GOP leaders

Gov. Mark Dayton: "I am pessimistic because they refuse to compromise."
MinnPost photo by Jay Weiner
Gov. Mark Dayton: “I am pessimistic because they refuse to compromise.”

For more than four months now, the state budget divide has been the elephant in the room overshadowing any other issue at the Capitol.

On this sparkling May morning, standing before cameras and microphones on the lawn outside the Governor’s residence, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch confirmed all that.

It was her 15-year-old daughter, Rachel, who pointed out the elephant issue.

“You’re not supposed to stare at the big elephant,” Rachel told her mother, the Republican leader, after the parent had mentioned what a tough go the budget situation is at the Capitol.

Koch talked about her approach to handling such a big problem: “When you eat it, you just have to eat a little bit at time. The budget, we have to start somewhere and if you focus on the big — as you try to get this global budget agreement — that’s where the difficulty comes in. But if you start working the individual bills, we can be successful.”

Dayton still rejects piecemeal approach
Cute story, but rather than allow for some sort of aw-shucks coming together between the GOP and Gov. Mark Dayton, the tale revealed one key hurdle in striking a budget deal by next Monday. The GOP wants to pass all of its spending bills individually and have Dayton sign them one by one.

But the governor prefers to see the budget in its totality. He called the GOP collection of bills — health and human services, education, etc. — “a mosaic.” He doesn’t want to sign the moving parts into law. He wants all of the pieces to fit together.

So, Tuesday morning’s meeting at the Summit Avenue residence — soon after he met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — meant that there was no agreement on anything between the two sides.

A few little things suggesting some tiny movement in the process emerged:

• The GOP leaders extended an invitation to the governor to meet with their entire caucuses. It will probably be a combined meeting of the GOP Senate and House groups. The governor accepted.

• The governor instructed his commissioners to begin meeting with the GOP-controlled conference committees to discuss specific concerns. The GOP leaders applauded that.

GOP leadership spoke to the press following Tuesday morning's meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton.
MinnPost photo by Jay Weiner
GOP leadership spoke to the press following Tuesday morning’s meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton.

On the caucus meetings, House Speaker Kurt Zellers said individual members could affect the governor’s thinking, especially the small-business owners in the caucus. He said maybe the regular members of the caucus — and not the leaders who always meet with the governor — could change Dayton’s mind by making “a compelling case” that higher taxes push business owners to other states.

Governor standing by compromise
Dayton said later he wasn’t about to change his mind on the compromise he offered Monday that includes $1.8 billion in tax increases.

Indeed, as he stood in front of his residence, the governor firmly and passionately reiterated his stance that the GOP budget would increase property taxes, take Minnesotans off health care rolls and “eviscerate” the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

He called the consequences of the GOP budget cuts — without revenue increases — “an indefensible position.”

Of reaching a budget deal before the end of the legislative session Monday and of avoiding a state government shutdown, Dayton said: “I am pessimistic because they refuse to compromise … I’m willing to meet them halfway … Their only deal is if I agree entirely with them. I don’t and I won’t.”

With that, he walked slowly back to the Governor’s Residence, alone.

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Comments (28)

  1. Submitted by Matty Lang on 05/17/2011 - 11:18 am.

    Governor Dayton may have walked back into his residence alone, but he certainly isn’t alone on his policy position with a strong majority of Minnesotans backing him. This GOP caucus needs to realize that they are in St. Paul to do the business of the state. They are not there to do the bidding of the conservative activist base as they continually claim. On average 40% of the people in their districts did not even bother to vote let alone cast a ballot telling them “to hold the line” on anything. And then there’s the folks that voted for their opponents. . .

  2. Submitted by Carol Flynn on 05/17/2011 - 11:26 am.

    Governor Dayton may want to pull back his compromise $1.8 Billion revenue offer since that is where the Republicans will now begin their “compromise” cuts.

  3. Submitted by Ray Aune on 05/17/2011 - 11:37 am.

    meeting of both caucuses.. House and state senate.. anybody else getting a ‘roman senate gathering a quorum to kill the Caesar’ kind of vibe from that?

  4. Submitted by Rebecca Hoover on 05/17/2011 - 11:49 am.

    I am always a bit distressed when chubby politicians go on and on about putting government on a diet. Accordingly, the picture with this story made me shake my head.

    The biggest proposer of diet for state government is, ironically, Tony Sutton.

    The weight-related health habits of our politicians do matter. First, a diet containing larger amounts of red meat and diary do contribute not only to obesity, lost productivity, and reduced life expectancy but also to global warming.

    Our political leaders need to start being better role models.

  5. Submitted by Jerilyn Jackson on 05/17/2011 - 11:53 am.

    Finally an adult in the Governor’s Residence. Go Governor Dayton!

  6. Submitted by will lynott on 05/17/2011 - 12:20 pm.

    Mark Dayton is not “alone,” Jay. The public backs him, public employees back him, even the local chambers are coming around. It’s the Greedy Old Party that is increasingly isolated. Hang in there, Gov. And I hope you’re done feeding concessions to these ideologues.

  7. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/17/2011 - 12:49 pm.

    Pawlenty pulled that trick of signing the spending bills BEFORE the revenue bills a couple of years ago. It worked then, but to expect it to work a second time is naive.

    I’m listening to the House floor debate on the governor’s budget. The conservatives absolutely do not get it; they only concern is for the top 2% of earners — you know, the job creators who will run away to Mississippi — to the detriment of small business owners, low- to middle-income workers, the disabled, the elderly, the homeless, and a thousand et ceteras.

    If Governor Dayton runs out of veto pens, I’ll be happy to rush to the Capitol with a new supply.

  8. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 05/17/2011 - 01:04 pm.

    Hey GOPer’s, explain this one to me…how come when the DFL controlled the legislature and T-Paw was governor, compromise was acceptable. But not now, now that roles are reversed. What, exactly, does the fact that we elected a DFL governor mean to you?

  9. Submitted by Christopher Bell on 05/17/2011 - 02:16 pm.

    The GOP has resurrected “social darwinism”–survival of the fittest” as applied to the haves vs. have-nots in society–in asserting that so-called “productive” (read as “wealthy”) human beings are superior to the rest of us. We all should remember that social darwinism lay at the core of Hitler’s belief in the superiority of the Aryan race and the need for the killing of people who were chronically ill, elderly, communists, gypsies and, of course, people of the Jewish faith. Not here and not now!

  10. Submitted by Dave Kopesky on 05/17/2011 - 03:03 pm.

    A message to the GOP leadership – “Compromise is not a dirty word”. I applaud the Governor for not rolling over and letting the tea party dictate the budget decisions.

  11. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 05/17/2011 - 03:25 pm.

    Carol’s advice (#2) is excellent.

    If it comes to a government shut-down, it can only help Dayton. The shut-down will be an indicator of what happens when the government cuts services to those currently provided with health and education services.

    It would be very interesting for the Governor to invite the “job-creators”, those who will leave Minnesota if their tax bill goes up, to a meeting at the Governor’s mansion. I know that I am staying!

  12. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/17/2011 - 03:54 pm.

    Jackson Cage writes
    “how come when the DFL controlled the legislature and T-Paw was governor, compromise was acceptable.”

    I don’t recall Pawlenty compromising on much, except perhaps in agreeing to call a tax a fee.

  13. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/18/2011 - 06:48 am.

    We pay $80 for simple kiddy soccer where the fields are free. Yet DFLers pretend as if there is no runaway spending in the local governments. Compromise is a convenient word to make the other guy pay.

  14. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/18/2011 - 07:29 am.

    Raj (#13):

    …where the fields are free…

    Land is free? Sodding/seeding is free? Debris removal is free? Hole filling is free? Mowing is free? Police service is free? Roads are free? Lighting is free?

    $80.00?

    Welcome to the “user fee”, Raj! Since your child uses it, you pay.

    As Republicans are fond of saying, “Why should I pay for services I don’t use?”

    If your child got seriously cut on a half-buried piece of debris, would you hold the city harmless for the injury?

    It’s a two-way street.

  15. Submitted by Tony George on 05/18/2011 - 07:40 am.

    The Minnesota legislature is a good example of the dangers in letting extreme right-wing organizations like the Target Corporation or the Koch brothers’ Americans for Koch Prosperity take over Minnesota’s politics.

  16. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/18/2011 - 07:49 am.

    Neal Rovick

    So u want $80 for an 8 year old to kick a ball for 6 weeks. That would be in addition to the property taxes that are collected to maintain those fields. Yet u claim as if thats the only money being collected for those fields

    Do you ever wonder why there are no minorities playing soccer in any of these suburbs. That is because people like you justify every expense rather than rationalizing any spending.

    It is not a two way street, rather a one way street where there is no control on expenses, and all the liberal looks the other way while the poor and minority sit at home excluded from every city activity because they cannot afford it, while you all sing kumbaya.

  17. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/18/2011 - 07:52 am.

    Some of us seem to believe that everyone in government, including those teaching our kids, those keeping them safe, those making sure they’re not being taught or coached by criminals, even those maintaining their soccer fields should work for free, so that they THEMSELVES don’t have to pay for the services being provided to them and to their children.

    These are the same folks, the ones of whom our Republican legislators are so terrified, who are the first to call city hall and complain about a pot hole on their street, AND the first to show up at city council meetings and complain about the taxes levied on them…

    (the dysfons whose dysfunctions make them unable to comprehend that their is any connection between the potholes on their streets and the taxes they resist paying).

    They whine, they keen, they moan, they wail, but they are actually a small minority of the population of our state. We need to stop listening to them and solve our problems in the very reasonable ways our state’s citizens believe we should.

    Of course our Republican friends, many of whom are dysfons themselves, will refuse to do so and, in their refusal, relegate themselves to a legislative minority for the next 50 years.

    GO GOVERNOR DAYTON! Veto it all and take the Pawlenty approach. Tell the Republicans to start over and work until they find a way to send you something you can and will sign.

    It is the Republican dysfons and their small number of dysfonic supporters who are alone, not you. YOU have the citizens of the state solidly behind you.

  18. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/18/2011 - 08:08 am.

    Raj: No, it’s not the only source of funding for the field, but a multiple teams regularly using a field does promote wear that would not occur with random usage. So more maintenance and observation of the field is required for organized team usage. There is probably also a coordinator involve that keeps track of the teams–have you had any disputes as to your right to the field at a specific time?

    If you want to avoid paying $80–organize your own team or league, do the mailings and contact work, find a field that isn’t being used at the time that you want to use it, provide your own goals and markers, and go have fun.

    The $80 may not all go to expenses, but I’m sure the city/park board could explain how they arrived at the number. And, as far as I know, virtually every city/park board will waive fees for those who can’t afford them.

    By the, using the phrase “people like you” is as offensive to me, as you would find it if I used it on you.

  19. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 05/18/2011 - 08:44 am.

    The GOP were elected by the campaign promise to not raise taxes and it will very hard for them to move away from that position. Dayton has positioned himself as a governor who is willing to compromise in contrast to the legislative leaders who will not compromise.

    It would seem that a government shutdown is inevitable. The side that loses the battle over public opinion will eventually have to back down after a long and embarrassing legislative session.

  20. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/18/2011 - 08:52 am.

    Raj: have you considered the $80 dollars cover the costs associated with your child and perhaps part of the cost of another’s child, who cannot afford the $80?

  21. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/18/2011 - 08:53 am.

    Yes, when multiple teams use the fields then the cost would be much lower in maintaining those fields (that is in addition to the property taxes we pay). The costs are not due to the costs of maintaing fields and such, rather the bloated payrolls of vested interests and other kumbayah projects. Why would they cut any expenses, as long as they got the “common good” crown that will justify every expense.

    I lived in St. Louis Park and did exactly what you suggest. I worked the numbers and told the city that i was willing to offer a program for $29, with a money back guarantee. Guess what the first words out of the assistant city Superintendent. “We won’t give you the fields”.

    Yes if you earn less than 10K or whatever baloney number they cook up then u play for free. However i asked the question “how many play for free” and they would not answer the question. I wonder why ?

    There is no justification for such expenses, except for the good old boy politics in towns like St. Louis Park. Where basically everything is politicized and controlled by the liberal elites who conveniently look the other way while poor and minorities are shunted to the side.

    When u arrive at a justification for every expense a a city level, then it is fair for me to group u into such groups. Just like how u give me a lecture on user fees.

  22. Submitted by Rod Loper on 05/18/2011 - 09:03 am.

    I have observed the whining from the republicans
    that Dayton’s commissioners won’t help them craft their all cuts game plan. As pressure builds, they
    are looking for political cover pure and simple.
    Shameful and hypocritical.

  23. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/18/2011 - 09:08 am.

    Neal Rovick

    “Raj: have you considered the $80 dollars cover the costs associated with your child and perhaps part of the cost of another’s child, who cannot afford the $80?”

    I delved through soccer accounting in the City of St. Louis Park in far greater detail than u can imagine.

    You can ask the Sec. of State for the file on the City Soccer club. You will find some very interesting filings after i started asking questions.

    When i started asking these questions even school board members came and told me that there were concerns but no one had the guts to ask the question.

    That Neal,is the grand Kumbayah that exists in cities like St. Louis Park. The result of which minorities and poor are shunted to the side lines.

  24. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/18/2011 - 09:26 am.

    Raj is a good example of a person who wants what they use for free (and in good condition) but have no insight into the fact that the government has multiple responsibilities and potential liabilities beyond what they specifically encounter in a youth soccer fee.

    I certainly won’t be held responsible for the financial probity of St. Louis Park and it’s expenditures, but I sincerely doubt anyone is living a life of wealth and ease on youth soccer fees.

    Raj, do “u” sincerely believe that “u” personally collecting $29 from each player addresses the financial costs of maintaining the facility?

  25. Submitted by Tony George on 05/18/2011 - 09:46 am.

    The Minnesota legislature is proof that the United States Supreme Court decision was wrong to open the floodgates so extreme right-wing corporations and political groups like Target Corporation and Americans for Koch Brothers’ Prosperity can spend unlimited money and in effect buy legislators. I wish there were one Republican legislator who exhibited one sign that they had a mind of their own.

  26. Submitted by Elsa Mack on 05/18/2011 - 09:53 am.

    I rather wish Dayton hadn’t already offered a compromise. I suppose the goal was to show that he’s making an effort to compromise and it’s the Legislature that’s unreasonable. But I think the effect is that he’s moved his position closer to theirs, and now he’ll certainly get less in the end.

    But then, I guess we’re dealing with people who think the way to lower park fees is to cut funding to the parks. Or who cut funds for the VA and then disavow any responsibility for the resulting reduction in services, because it wasn’t their “intention.” As far as I can tell, the Republican party has no concept of the connection between their budget decisions and the lives of real people. Either that, or they’re downright cruel.

  27. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/18/2011 - 10:36 am.

    “Raj is a good example of a person who wants what they use for free (and in good condition) but have no insight into the fact that the government has multiple responsibilities and potential liabilities beyond what they specifically encounter in a youth soccer fee.”

    Firstly i did not state that I want the fields for free. $29 for a 8 year old to kick a ball for an hour for six weeks is far from free. However it is far less than the $80 that Neal seems to think is A-OK. It basically shows how out of touch the “more money for everything” crowd is.

    Neal is the typical example of when confronted with wasteful city expenditures will come up with obfuscated reasoning’s and more obfuscated reasoning’s. As if ordinary folks like me are so dim that we cannot figure out that it is nothing more than wasteful spending to protect vested interests and their constituencies.

    We now spend $80 per kid in soccer (that conveniently excludes the inconvenient poor and minorities). We also spend about 13K per pupil in MPLS with no results to be proud of. However i am sure Neal will assume that people like me are just too “non-elite” to conclude that the money is being wasted.

    Considering there are about 1500 players just for soccer 29×1500 = 43500. That would be above and beyond what the city collects in property taxes, with maintaining the parks as one of its primary responsibilities in addition to any money received from the schools.

    People like me have raised questions and we have first hand seen the evasiveness and the obfuscation that exist in good old boy towns like St. Louis Park.

  28. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 05/18/2011 - 11:46 am.

    “But then, I guess we’re dealing with people who think the way to lower park fees is to cut funding to the parks”

    Taken a look at how much city of St. Paul pays for Parks superintendent and the assistants. Add to that the nice fat fat pension. Then u get an idea why some people gets skeptical of these howls of poverty.

    There has been no effort to rationalize the cost structures of state spending and LGA. Just blame the people who question such spending.

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