ST. PAUL, Minn. – Staff members at the Minnesota Legislature could face layoffs in the hundreds unless Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders come to a resolution regarding the legislature’s funding.
After agreeing to a series of budget bills Dayton line item vetoed two lines in the State Government Omnibus bill stripping $64 million each from the House and the Senate for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years. The existing funding runs out on July 1.
The lack of funding after that now looks like it could include layoffs of up to 230 regular Minnesota House employees and 204 staffers in the Minnesota Senate, reports WCCO. Adding in the 201 elected members of the Minnesota legislature’s two chambers, a total of 635 people could be affected by the lack of funds. WCCO reports this would be the single largest layoff in Minnesota since 2015.
“I regret the effect on the staff very, very much,” Dayton said, reports WCCO.
Currently the House has $8.3 million in reserve and could use that to keep paying workers for around 12 weeks, reports WCCO. On the Senate side there is $4 million in reserve and the chamber could keep paying workers for just six weeks past July 1.
As Alpha News reported, Dayton had signed all ten budget bills into law, though he signed the tax bill only due to a provision in another bill defunding the Department of Revenue if it was not signed. He plans on using the veto of legislative funding as a tool to force Republicans back into session.
Dayton’s list of demands on the budget bills includes:
- Repealing tobacco tax breaks
- Repealing increases in estate tax exclusions
- Repealing a law that codifies a rule banning illegal immigrants from having drivers licenses
- A renegotiation of provisions relating to teacher licensure
Republican leadership in the legislature has called Dayton’s move unconstitutional and will be pursuing legal action against the governor.