It’s said that the definition of “insanity” is repeating the same action but thinking that at some point there will be a different outcome. That notion comes to mind in the wake of DFL Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton late last week vetoing massive tax and budget bills approved by the Republican-controlled Minnesota House and Senate.
So who’s most guilty of displaying such behavior, Republican legislative leaders who keep sending Dayton bills that he’s said repeatedly he’s going to veto, or Minnesota voters who keep electing all of these people to office, from both parties, to not do their jobs?
For as long as Dayton has been governor and for as long as Republicans have controlled Minnesota’s two legislative chambers, Dayton has made it clear that if certain bills were passed and sent to his desk in certain forms, he’d veto them. He said that again this session, but the Republicans wanted to be able to blame him once the session ended, so they sent him two enormous bills totaling around 2,000 pages on the last day of the session.
Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said they were blindsided by the vetoes. They were not. They would have been blindsided had Dayton actually signed the bills into law.
Crookston’s state representative in St. Paul, Republican Deb Kiel, said this in her post-veto statement released by her office: “The significant reforms to address senior and vulnerable adult abuse I worked on all session are gone with this veto. Meaningful investments in education including more funding and measures to keep students safe are gone with this veto. Low-income working families who rely on federal child care subsidies are hurt by this veto. The first income tax rate cut in nearly twenty years and critical tax conformity are gone with this veto. It seems our governor has chosen to play a political game and the people of Minnesota lost.”
Aside from the year-after-year-after-year continued absence of bipartisanship or a willingness to compromise, by legislators from both parties, the root of the problem once again seems to be the legislature’s inability to get major legislative passed until the last days, hours, minutes and seconds of each session.
Just look at what the statement from Kiel’s office indicates near the top. It references Dayton’s veto of the “tax conformity/school funding bill.” Why are these two different yet important legislative items in a single bill in the first place? Why is the abuse of senior citizens and vulnerable adults that Kiel worked to get passed during the session part of a bill that’s almost 2,000 pages thick? Why is funding to help struggling license centers across the state included in this bill? Why is school safety funding in this bill?
Couldn’t a stand-alone bill be hammered out that helps tackle the growing problem of senior citizen and vulnerable adult abuse? Couldn’t one bill and one bill alone address the state’s need to conform with the new federal tax law?
Dayton over the years has said that he’s been in favor of certain provisions in bills that have made it to his desk at the last minute. But when 10 additional, often unrelated things that he doesn’t like are stuffed in those bills, he has always threatened to veto them, and he’s consistently backed up his threats. The Republicans running the legislature have previously been and continue to be well aware of this. The biggest disappointment with this session would be if they just sent him all of this legislation knowing he’d veto it, but figured the collateral damage would be worth it because Dayton is not seeking another term, and maybe they can get a Republican in the governor’s mansion.
Maybe those of us outside the loop just don’t get it. Maybe we’re dopes, even. But what if Dayton would have said to Republican leaders, “Hey, I’ll sign your bonding bill, even though it’s barely half as big as the one I want, and in return, you guys approve an emergency funding bill, which I really want, for struggling school districts across the state.”
Is that so unattainable? So impossible? Maybe that one compromise could have led to more compromises.
Oh, who are we kidding? Now it’s the Times acting insane.