Editorial: Time for courage and a need to get the job done
For nearly five months, the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton have been meeting and meeting and meeting. Yet, they seem unable to agree on much of anything.
The Legislature's Republican majority and the DFL governor are matching staredowns to see which one budges first. After publically sparring Thursday over their opposing positions on proposed tax and spending plans, they resumed discussions Friday.
There appears to be little movement toward any compromise or agreement.
With the legislative deadline clock running down toward Monday, it is time for Minnesotans to speak up—loud and clear.
Get it done—and on time.
Both legislative sides—Republicans and Democrats—are strategically positioning themselves for the midterm elections next year, rather than focusing on the business of Minnesota and its residents.
These legislators and the governor are focused on standing their ground, regardless of the consequences. They and some of their constituents view compromise as a sign of weakness and strive to win at an all-costs strategy; rather than providing good governance.
By late Thursday, the political sides were debating over who made the last offer and whose turn it was to make a counteroffer.
The legislative session is scheduled to end at midnight Monday. If there is no agreement on the final budget, a special session would be required to keep Minnesota's government operating after June 30.
Once again, Minnesota's Legislature and governor will not have gotten their job done and Minnesotans will be left paying the bill.
The 23-day special session in 2005 cost more than $250,000, according to Citizens Against Government Waste.
How did Minnesota get here in 2017?
The Republican-majority members prepared their own budget bills, focused on their own priorities with little input from the other side. The Republican majority wants to use the surplus for targeted tax cuts and credits.
The governor declined to participate in budget negotiations with legislative leaders and simply began vetoing budget bills when they didn't address his priorities. Dayton wants to utilize the state surplus to expand funding for education and adequately fund needed growth in the state's human services and health programs.
It may be time to take the legislators and the governor to a St. Paul woodshed for a little compromise therapy.
Many tasks remain on the 2017 legislative agenda.
First and foremost, an agreement on a two-year, $46 billion state budget.
Minnesota also needs a long-term transportation funding agreement. An adequate bonding bill for critical projects around the state is also needed.
Hopefully, by the time readers read this editorial Saturday, the Legislature and Dayton will have come to a deadline reality and begun moving toward some type of compromise.
We don't hold out a lot of hope that this wish will come true.
With legislative leaders on both sides planning to run for governor in 2018 and Dayton not facing re-election next year, the reality most likely will be a political standoff - until one side or the other blinks.
With that lack of political courage and will to compromise, Minnesota and its residents will likely be held hostage once again and face a special session and related costs in June.
It's time to contact your local legislators and the governor to give them a simple message:
Get your job done ... and on time!