Both Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate met with Governor Dayton yesterday over the looming question of whether a special session would occur. Tensions between the parties grew after the Governor refused to sign a $260M tax bill aimed at providing relief to many in Minnesota.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann held a press conference with House Speaker Kurt Daudt, in which both leaders agreed that there were some trust issues with Governor Dayton, pointing specifically to how the Governor vetoed the tax relief bill after he promised Republican leaders that he would not use it as leverage. The tax relief bill had a $100M error, something Speaker Kurt Daudt claimed could be fixed without a veto and was caused by the Governor’s revenue department.
Leaders also expressed their excitement that the bonding committee was being put back together, hoping for an open and public discussion about bonding. Republican Senate Minority Leader David Hann in a press release early yesterday stated that House Republicans did their jobs “in good faith” while denouncing the Governor and Senate Democrats for “deliberately obstructing progress.”
Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen also held their own press conference in which they pointed the finger at the House Republicans for the sessions failure. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen was especially critical of Speaker Kurt Daudt as he described the House bonding bill as “fantasy that only exists in the speakers mind.”
Leaders disagreed with several points, mainly the Governor’s involvement in the bonding bill, bonding bill negotiations, and Southwest Light Rail.
Majority Leader Bakk stated that he felt that the Governor was not really included in the process of the bonding bill and hoped that public hearings with the bonding committee would allow the Governor the opportunity to contribute. Speaker Daudt adamantly stated that over half of the bonding bill ($545M of $995M) were based on the Governor’s input.
While DFL leaders were able to determine that $1.15B was a good middle ground, they were not able to confirm how that number compared to past bonding bills. Republican Leaders were insistent that $1B was the middle ground and that the $995M bonding bill that failed in the last night would have been the largest bonding bill in Minnesota History.
Southwest Light Rail continues to be a major topic between the parties as both Lieutenant Governor Smith and Majority Leader Bakk were very clear that Southwest Light Rail would not be taken off the table. Speaker Daudt was also very clear that Southwest Light Rail would not be going anywhere since there were two pending lawsuits against it.
Leaders in both parties plan to meet Wednesday morning with the Governor to further discuss the possibility for a special session.