DFL legislators may be the most dismayed with budget deal

While both Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP leaders looked dejected as they announced Thursday’s budget deal, it could be Dayton’s legislative colleagues who feel the least happy with the outcome.

Rep. Alice Hausman
Rep. Alice Hausman

DFL lawmakers admit that Dayton, as the state’s top official, personally felt the impact of Minnesota’s two-week government shutdown, but the framework budget deal he brokered with Republicans is tough for any Democrat to swallow.

“This guy, more keenly than any person in this state, feels the effects of a shutdown,” said Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. “None of us can understand the strain he feels as governor.”

“I think I’m very reflective of our caucus in sympathy with the governor,” said Rep. Mindy Greiling, one of the most outspoken DFL House members. But, she added: “I would be surprised if a single Democrat voted for [the compromise] and if they did, I’d have to wonder, ‘Why?’ “

Rep. Mindy Greiling
Rep. Mindy Greiling

Roughly half of the House DFL caucus participated in a conference call Thursday morning, and Greiling said it didn’t seem like members supported the deal. Another call is scheduled for Friday morning.

After more than three hours of negotiations Thursday afternoon, Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch trudged out of the governor’s office. They announced a “framework” deal that would borrow even more from K-12 education and frontload Minnesota’s tobacco settlement payments through bonding to float the roughly $1.4 billion state spending increase that Dayton has been fighting for to prevent cuts to “core services.”

In doing so, Dayton abandoned his proposed income tax hikes on the wealthy, ones that he says would lead to a more progressive and fair Minnesota.

To Democrats like Greiling, an education crusader and lead DFLer on the House K-12 finance committee, the deal leads Minnesota a mile in the wrong direction. She called the 60-40 state payment shift – the largest in at least recent Minnesota history – “historic and astounding.”

On top of the one-time fixes riddling the deal, some Democrats aren’t convinced Republicans will remove the medley of policy provisions that populate their budget bills.

 “They could still kill the deal by wanting social policies,” Greiling said before the announcement came. “They could still kill that deal with overreach. Their pattern seems to be when they get what they want, they ask for more.”

Dayton and the GOP leaders reached a framework deal based on the governor’s letter stipulating they abandon policy provisions – such as cuts to integration aid and special education funding and a 15 percent state workforce reduction by 2015.

But there was a worrisome note for some DFLers, too, when Koch mentioned that Health and Human Services reforms were still on the table.

“I don’t want policy. I want a budget,” Hausman said.

Bonding plan far from certain
There is still uncertainty about the $500 million bonding bill Dayton required in his budget offer. The governor backed off the strong language included in his letter after the framework deal had been brokered Thursday afternoon.

Likewise, Koch and Zellers were mum about whether borrowing legislation – which requires more votes to pass than other measures – would be able to pass their respective chambers.

“There will need to be some Democrat votes in both bodies for the bonding bill,” Zellers said. But, according to the governor, the DFL minority leaders in the House and Senate haven’t pledged the votes necessary to pass such legislation.

“I will do my very best to get Democrat votes for the bonding bill,” said Dayton, who proposed a $1 billion effort early this legislative session that went nowhere in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Hausman, the DFL lead on the House Capital Investment Committee, said it could be difficult to move the proposal along because no lawmakers drafted substantive bonding legislation this year.

Will she be involved?

 “Yes, I would certainly like to make the case,” Hausman said.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/15/2011 - 10:22 am.

    This is far from a “done deal”. As anyone who is involved in complicated negotiations know, much mischief can be made between the announcement of the grand deal and the working out of details.

    The Republican legislators are too fractious to line up neatly. It is also clear that for many ideology trumps compromise.

    This could all fall apart.

  2. Submitted by David Weidt on 07/15/2011 - 11:39 am.

    Various stories about this resolution make reference to Mark Dayton’s campaign pledge to increase taxes on the wealthy, and quote unhappy DFL legislators.

    Dayton’s pledge was made before the DFL lost both house of the legislature in November. DFL legislators, both present and past, played a huge role in this disaster. Dayton got himself elected, but he couldn’t get the DFL legislators elected.

    If it weren’t for Mark Dayton, Minnesota state government would be in the same position as Wisconsin

  3. Submitted by Marianne Stebbins on 07/15/2011 - 11:44 am.

    No, I’d say anyone who has a small bone of fiscal sanity should be the most dismayed with this bill. That the GOP put forth a 12% budget increase is unconscionable. Why would we bother to work for the reelection of any of the irresponsible legislators? Time to clean house again.

  4. Submitted by David Greene on 07/15/2011 - 11:59 am.

    The only thing more disappointing then this deal would be for Democrats to vote against it. If they do that, they own the shutdown in the public’s mind.

    The best thing that could happen is for the Republicans to add in policy language and kill this bad deal before it gets off the ground.

  5. Submitted by Virginia Simson on 07/15/2011 - 12:16 pm.

    In hopes that at long last, Democrats will sit up and TAKE NOTE – The Problem is NOT the budget. The Problem is NOT even the #MNshutdown as horrible as that is. It is NOT even the horrifying attacks on the poor, the students, the disabled, the working poor, the State employees ..

    It is the malfeasance of the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange) GOP members (some of whom took the Grover Norquist oath) that is The Problem here in Minnesota —

    The unions, the media, the professional poverty industry yuppies as well as the DFL have failed to make that clear. Surely it was not TOO difficult to make clear the Conservative agenda in State houses. I handed out over 16,000 flyers about it in the Capitol during the session and made certain each and every DFLer got them and made many many phone calls, held rallies, made videos – always asking for assistance to get Minnesotans “on the page.” Many many people helped out, but the media steadfastly refused to cover it, so YOU don’t know. In fact, I was on the air w/Eric Black of MNpost making it VERY clear.

    Now the ALEC cut-and-paste legislation is available all over the internet. Yet, here is MN get plastered by a bad deal for everyone. Why? The real citizens of this state have rarely been heard, but you shall be hearing from us as NO ALEC member should be re-elected. They should be RECALLED.

    http://www.USuncutMN.blogspot.com has covered this for months and this is our NEW campaign below. No point in calling Mark Dayton and crew .. they KNEW.
    for today’s update on it, see:

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=230317733668739 Call out ALEC members during #liteson – and get this state working for EVERYONE again .. or get these graft takers out of office.

  6. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/15/2011 - 12:17 pm.

    This is a bad deal for any citizen. The governor and legislature (both parties) should be ashamed at their irresponsible behavior.

  7. Submitted by John Ferman on 07/15/2011 - 12:34 pm.

    Once a special session is called, there is no Constitutional requirement for adjournment (except loss of quorum may play into this) , so the Republicans can run wild with their social issues. They know all would be vetoed, so look to a slew of Constitutional amendment bills. These would breeze through both chambers and bypasses the Governor.

    To David Greene, the DFLers can vote present or not vote instead of Yea/Nay.

  8. Submitted by Peter Nickitas on 07/15/2011 - 12:38 pm.

    The DFL Legislative Party, in my opinion, has no standing to complain, because it lost it’s majority status by it’s refusal to act on values the majority of Minnesotans hold on the vision for MN and the taxation means to that end. Restated, a greater showing of guts in the Pawlenty terms would have found the DFL in majority control. If the DFL minority caucus truly has a vision for MN that sees a MN as decent, generous, and effective as the MN in W. Anderson’s era, then I see them needing to start the campaign NOW. The next biennial budget should be created by Gov. Dayton and a Legislature that believes on representative governance, not an elected bunch of authoritarian beasts.

  9. Submitted by myles spicer on 07/15/2011 - 02:10 pm.

    While I may have sympathy for the predicament Dayton was in, his caving was a massive defeat for the reality that revenue absolutely is needed if we are to remain an great state with enlightened services. Moreover, he was a sort of beacon on the national scene as he stood his ground on the issue — and the public understood this. His stature was even greater when considering that Obama caved in a similar fashion on the Bush tax extension.

    Now both men have caved on an issue that is central to making our state and nation more more robust, fairer, and stronger.

    Revenues are absolutely part of that equation. Grover Norquist said: he doesn’t want to make government smaller, he wants to take it into the bathroom and drown it”. So he has.

  10. Submitted by Rebecca Hoover on 07/15/2011 - 02:21 pm.

    Peter, I agree the Democrats lost control of the legislature because they became a party that supported an aristocracy of sorts while ignoring the legislation supported by the majority of Minnesotans. Even Democratic votes got tired of donothing Democratic legislators throwing money at an obese bureaucracy while doing nothing to pass the kind of guaranteed health care bills that have already passed in other states.

    A lot of voters begin to feel that if the Democratic legislators were going to act like Republicans, one might as well vote for Republicans just to get a turnover.

  11. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 07/15/2011 - 07:54 pm.

    Republicans took the House and Senate because thousands of ordinarily intelligent Minnesotans were propagandized by the Koch Brothers, creators of the Tea Party. The method was to target groups who were already somewhat angry about taxes or religion or abortion or gay marriage or guns or Obama’s citizenship or whatever and to feed that anger until people gathered themselves under the Tea Party umbrella.

    The brothers and folks like the National Chamber of Commerce and huge corporate entities like the energy and insurance industries then spent whatever it took nationally and in the states to get Tea Party members elected to state legislatures and to Congress by appealing to this same anger.

    Virginia (#5)is absolutely right about ALEC, which writes boilerplate legislation for introduction by its members. We’ve all seen the legislation: cut health and human services; write voter i.d. rules that would disenfranchise many students and elderly and homeless people; “protect” marriage, for just a few.

  12. Submitted by Lynn Wehrman on 07/19/2011 - 09:06 am.

    The GOP has been rewarded by being granted their wishes to close the government and now to get Dayton to bend to their will.

    Don’t think that they’re going to stop there. It’s going to be a very long shut down.

    We’re entering a new era called “politics-by-temper-tantrum.” What an interesting ride for those of us who can’t finance our way out of the consequences.

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