Dayton vetoes GOP budget bills, blames right wing
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton today vetoed Republican legislators' $34 billion budget plan, blaming right-wing Republicans for failure to negotiate.
"It is wrong, it is so unMinnesotan," Dayton said about Republican action.
While Dayton said GOP leaders are reasonable, he said the conservative wing of the party, mostly new lawmakers, know little about state government and care less about it.
Dayton's comments were his strongest yet against Republicans who control the Legislature.
Because of Republicans' lack of compromise, he said, there is a "strong likelihood" that no budget agreement can be reached by July 1. That means state government would run out of money and shut down.
Republican leaders were flying around the state today and no immediately available for comment. However, before the Legislature adjourned its regular session Monday night, GOP leaders blamed Dayton for the problem. They said voters sent them to St. Paul to keep spending and taxes down, firmly rejecting Dayton's proposed $1.8 billi tax increase.
Dayton's vetoes of budget and tax bills came hours after Legislature adjourned its regular session. The actions set up continued negotiations and the need for a special legislative session.
The only portion of the state budget with money for the next two year is agriculture. Lawmakers and Dayton agreed to that bill earlier in the session, so programs such as food inspections will continue.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said just after adjournment that she expected budget negotiations to resume this week. Dayton said talks may not start again until late this week or early next week.
"We are disappointed that Gov. Dayton is going to force the legislature into overtime for more spending and more taxes," said Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. "The budget bills on Gov. Dayton's desk put the brakes on automatic increases in spending and send a positive message to businesses, investors and job creators that state government will not tax you into another state."
Dayton said his approach is balanced.
"Each of us started our budget proposals by making a choice," Dayton wrote to lawmakers. "I chose a balanced approach to our budget; one that included both significant cuts, but asked the top 2 percent of Minnesotans to pay more to ensure our quality of life and the services millions of Minnesotans depend on. ...
"In the spirit of compromise, more than one week ago, I cut my proposal in half, in the hopes that an offer to meet in the middle would spur action towards the balanced solution the people of Minnesota have asked for."
Money was the main issue in the session.
Under current law, the state would spend $39 billion in the next two years. Dayton originally proposed $37 billion, but lowered that to $35.8 billion last week.
Republicans insist on spending only what already is due to come into the state treasury: $34 billion. They say they will not accept higher taxes.
During last year's campaign, many Republicans were talking about something closer to $30 billion or $31 billion in the next two years.
A week ago, Dayton announced he would trim in half his proposed $3 billion-plus tax increase and would accept deeper spending cuts than he earlier planned. But that was as far as he will go, he said.