Gov. Mark Dayton said he is disappointed the 2016 session ended without a long-term transportation plan or a bonding bill, but he hasn’t decided yet whether he will call lawmakers back to try and pass those proposals.
Legislators failed to pass a $1 billion bonding bill — which included one-time cash for roads and bridge projects — in the final moments of the 2016 session Sunday evening. DFL senators, who were upset the last-minute deal didn’t include funding for public transit projects, amended the bill with minutes to go and sent it back to the House. Instead of taking up the bill with transit funding included, the House adjourned for the year.
Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt asked Dayton Monday if he would consider calling legislators back for a one-day special session to pass a bonding and transportation bill. Only the governor has the power to call special sessions.
“Whether or not there will be a special session I can’t say today,” Dayton said. “I’ve given it 14 hours and four minutes of thought, and I haven’t come to any conclusions one way or another.”
Lawmakers did manage to send Dayton two bills, a $300 million budget proposal and a $260 million tax cut bill. The governor said he will review those proposals as soon as he gets them, but he won’t hold them “hostage” to the special session negotiations. The governor has 14 days after a biennium to either sign or veto bills, but Dayton said he plans to take action on those bills within 48 hours of reviewing them.
“I don’t think dragging this out for two weeks serves anybody’s interests,” Dayton said. “Bonding and transportation should be considered and acted on on their own merits.”
Dayton both praised and criticized portions of the tax and budget bills. He railed on deductions for tobacco companies in the tax cut package, but he likes new credits for college students. In the supplemental budget bill, Dayton lamented that the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system got “virtually” no funding, but he’s happy it included $25 million for his signature preschool proposal.
He also didn’t set a timeline for calling a possible special session. “There’s not a deadline like last year with the end of the fiscal year,” Dayton said. “If we are going to do it, it’s got to be done right.”