For all the wailing that we've heard and read about Governor Dayton's wild-eyed vetoes of budget bills crushing the life prospects of poultry farmers and campers, a look beyond the talking points suggest that the reverse is true.
Lead by a radical, pro-corporate House Republican majority, Majority Leader Bakk thought he could cut last minutes deals for the Range, policy deals that cut to the heart of Minnesota values for clean air and water. Creating giant omnibus budget bills tainted with poison pills of policy but laced with funding for avian flu relief for farmers and buffer language for the Governor's clean water, the deal-makers thought decades of environmental policy might be erased.
This was the real "hostage-taking": stuffing bad policy into vital budget bills. Listening to citizens' objections, Dayton vetoed the ag/environment and jobs/energy bill.
Forum Communications reported Don Davis writes in Governor, leaders: short session soon that the gnashing of teeth of a special session will take place in the State Office Building (SOB) because that's where the cameras are.
Moreover, the Governor has a punch list that should cut through the backroom deals:
Only the governor can call a special session, and Dayton said he will do that only after he and all four legislative leaders agree to an agenda.
Dayton has set an eight-item agenda, more than most recent special sessions:
— Rewrite and pass a vetoed education funding bill with money to launch a pre-kindergarten program.
— Rewrite and pass a vetoed spending bill for jobs, economic development and energy, including more broadband expansion funds.
— Rewrite and pass a vetoed agriculture and environment funding bill, keeping money for avian flu recovery and requiring buffer strips around state waters.
— Overturn a just-passed provision that would allow private auditors to check county books instead of the state auditor.
— Pass a public works funding bill.
— Pass the “legacy bill” to fund outdoors and arts projects, and add funding for a White Earth Band project to protect forests, wildlife and habitat on the Wild River Watershed.
— Pass a $260 million one-time income tax cut, an olive branch to Republicans who place lower taxes at the top of their priority list.
— On Tuesday, Dayton added to his list passage of a bill that would allow felons’ vote to be restored after they get out of prison.
In addition to getting rid of the radical policy "reforms" in the environment part of the Ag and Environment Omnibus bill, we're pleased to see the stripping of the punish-the-state-auditor provision and the restoration of the White Earth Nation Legacy request. Icing on the cake: restoring the vote language, which had broad support across the caucuses.
Enough already. Quit with the BrokeBakk insider dealmaking, folks, and pass a budget for all Minnesota.
Photo: Bakk and Daudt announcing their May 15 deal.
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