Buoyant Gov. Dayton signs budget bills that end shutdown

Press secretary Katharine Tinucci hands Gov. Mark Dayton bills to sign that will reopen state government.
REUTERS/Eric Miller
Press secretary Katharine Tinucci hands Gov. Mark Dayton bills to sign that will reopen state government.

Gov. Mark Dayton was in remarkably buoyant spirits this morning as he sat down at a desk to sign the bills that end Minnesota’s government shutdown.

Joined by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, whose signature also was needed to make the signings official, Dayton used a different pen to sign each of the bills.

“This way no one will know which pen signed the tax bills,” said Dayton, with a smile.

Of course, governors often used multiple pens for signings and later present them to people who worked on the bills.

But this case, a resolution to the budget crisis that no one seems to like, was different from most signing ceremonies.

“I don’t know if anyone will take them,” said Dayton of the ceremonial pens.

The governor continued to take two directions in signing off on the legislation that puts Minnesota back to work.

He takes responsibility for the stuff he considers good: the bonding bill, removal of controversial policy provisions in the bills, a reduction in cuts in huge areas such as the Human Services budget from what Republicans had offered.

But he also points his finger at Republicans for the stuff he considers bad: the fund shifting and borrowing used to pull the deal together, as opposed to his preference of increasing income taxes on the wealthy.

The budgeting gimmicks that were used to increase revenues is “the Republicans’ fault,” Dayton said.

But then he turned to the $34.2 billion “cuts” budget that the Republicans had passed and that he vetoed at the end of the regular session.

“I think that budget would be even more irresponsible,” he said.

But he also had nice things to say about the Republican leadership and future cooperative efforts.

Despite their fundamental differences in funding government, Dayton said he and his administration worked well and “respectfully” with the Republican leaders who put together this deal in the last four days.

He said he looks forward to working with the GOP on government reforms. He’s already asked one Republican senator, John Howe, to start working with other legislators on coming up with fundamental tax reforms. (Howe is a big supporter of the idea of an expanded sales tax and lower income tax rates.) .

The governor was asked if he believed the state’s reputation suffered because of the shutdown.

“It certainly wasn’t helpful,” Dayton said, “but with $1.4 billion in cuts and even half those policy issues they wanted, it would have been worse.”

He said there were four good reasons that the deal was worth doing:

• “It gets Minnesota back to work. It was imperative somebody step forward and break the ice.”

• “It preserves a $35.7 billion budget,” which he said “so many Minnesotans depend on.”

• “The bonding bill will put as many as 14,000 Minnesotans back to work.”

• The policy issues “not in the bills” are as important as many of the items that are in the bills.

Of course, Dayton could not escape the signing event without a question about the Vikings’ stadium.

Earlier in the week, he’d hinted that a Vikings deal might have to wait until the next regular session. But this morning, the governor sounded as if he might be inclined to call another special session sometime this fall to deal with the explosive issue.

At the moment, he said, a Vikings bill is not ready. A source of revenue from the state, he said, has not been nailed down.

“When it gets ready,” he said of a stadium bill, “I’ll seriously consider a special session.”

Meantime, though, Dayton said he hopes state parks can open as soon as Thursday.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Andrew Kearney on 07/20/2011 - 11:32 am.

    1.4 billion or so in borrowing just so the wealthiest do not pay one more cent in taxes. A terrible way to run a state or anything. I was a signer of the Growth and Justice Gang of 200 so was in that group before I retired and would not even now mind paying more if others would. What a shame that more of the fortunate people do not follow the ‘Matthean’ principle.

  2. Submitted by will lynott on 07/20/2011 - 12:13 pm.

    There will, of course, be another deficit to deal with in 2013, since this budget is just a repeat of the old TP dropkick. Resolving it needn’t be as repulsive a process as this one was, of course, if the voters send adults to the leg next year. We will have the budget to balance, tp’s debts to schools and others to be repaid, and tax rate fairness to be reestablished. Lots of work still ahead.

  3. Submitted by Tim Brausen on 07/20/2011 - 01:28 pm.

    The Governor is to be complemented for his tone and tenor throughout this difficult process.

    The voters of 2012 are being given clear choices: more revenue through either an increase of income taxes on the high-income earners or a broader sales tax, or reduced government services and regular shutdowns.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 07/20/2011 - 01:57 pm.

    I second both #2 and #3.

    Someone had to be the grownup in the room, and distasteful as the compromise is, getting state government back to work is more important. As suggested in #2, the compromise merely kicks the can – again – down the road, but between now and the next regular session, there should be some hard thinking going on in the heads of at least some of the voters who sent ideological children to the legislature to do the work of adults. Maybe a few of them grew up a little bit during this ugly standoff, but at present, I see no evidence of that.

    As Will suggested in #2, there’s a LOT of work ahead.

  5. Submitted by Gail O'Hare on 07/20/2011 - 02:08 pm.

    Until we boot out the no-new-taxes robots we won’t get anything like a thoughtful and reasoned approach to our budget woes. Taxing those who control the most wealth would be a significant part of increasing revenue. So would taxing food and clothing over certain limits. Yes, I said food – $25 steak and lobster anyone? (Ironically, some of the most righteous among the belt-tighteners are the most visibly corpulent; taxing their consumption might solve our problem.)

    I’m grateful to Mr. Kearney and others like him who are grateful for their good fortune. But the Vance Oppermans ruled, leaving poor Governor Dayton twisting in the wind.

    It’s a sorry end to a shameful year.

  6. Submitted by James Blum on 07/20/2011 - 03:18 pm.

    I frankly would like to see Gov. Dayton start a new legislative session as an add-on to the 2011-2012 session and have the children in the legislature start arguing over the next budget. What, it’s a biennium budget you say? True, but those goofs couldn’t get anything accomplished in this past cycle in 6+ months. And I can’t think of any better punishment for them then making them actually work. Well, I can think of a few better punishments, but none that are legal.

  7. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 07/20/2011 - 04:10 pm.

    Another special session? Ah, yess — let them eat stadiums!

  8. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 07/20/2011 - 04:13 pm.

    I think we know how this will go:
    Democrats will regret the necessity of a painful compromise;
    Republicans will regret the compromise.

  9. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 07/20/2011 - 04:42 pm.

    From the MN Constitution, Article VIII, Section 6, Recall:

    “The grounds for recall of an officer other than a judge are serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of office of a serious crime.”

    From Article I, The Bill of Rrights, Section 1,
    Object of government:

    “Government is instituted for the security, benefit and protection of the people, in whom all political power is inherent, together with the right to alter, modify or reform government whenever required by the common good.”

    I, for one, would consider the application to government of a philosophy that requires the refusal to raise sufficient revenue to maintain public services, health care, education and infrastructure “serious malfeasance” since its serious harm to the common good is apparent.

  10. Submitted by Tony George on 07/20/2011 - 08:24 pm.

    The people of Minnesota need to sue the Koch brothers and the Republican legislators for every penny of the millions of dollars that were lost during the shutdown, while these lock-step legislators were pursuing their rigid Right-Wing policies.

  11. Submitted by Ken Tschumper on 07/20/2011 - 11:10 pm.

    My bet is that this is as close as we will ever get to “Tax the Rich” for resolving budget deficits. Even if the Dems end up in the majority after the 2012 election, I think the business class in Minnesota is going to make a big push to substitute a broader ,lower sales tax in order to cut off the possibility of a tax increase on the rich. Dems and the Governor will again “act like adults and compromise”, (media euphemism for cave in) so we will end up with a more regressive tax system as income and wealth continue to concentrate in the richest 5%.

  12. Submitted by Tony George on 07/21/2011 - 08:22 am.

    After the sorry episode in Minnesota where all the Republican legislator­s were marching in lock-step to destroy the Minnesota economy in order to promote the extreme Right Wing agenda of those two brothers from Kansas, I can’t see how anyone from Minnesota could ever in good faith vote for a Republican for any position again.

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