Special session a mistake

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2001

When Gov.

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

When Gov. Jesse Ventura called a special session for Monday to resolve Minnesota’s budget impasse, he probably made a tactical mistake. But it is an understandable one, no doubt driven by the frustration that Ventura and most other Minnesotans feel with their lawmakers’ inability to get their job done. In noting that Minnesota’s lawmakers – particularly the House and Senate leadership – have let the budget process go on too long, the governor is right on target.

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The Legislature adjourned this spring without ever agreeing on a budget for the period that begins this July. Now, with the clock ticking, there is a real possibility that a budget will not be in place before the new fiscal year starts – unless the Republican-led House and DFL-led Senate come to an agreement. Although it once appeared that they were closing in on a compromise on taxes and spending, the two parties now apparently have drawn farther apart.

In calling a special session for Monday, Ventura may have played one of his best political cards too early – because once they’re in session, lawmakers can stay in for as long as they want and work on whatever legislation they want. What the governor – who in this instance is in synch with most Minnesotans – may accomplish is putting the spotlight on Sen. Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine, Rep. Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, and other leaders who have so far failed to do their jobs.

The simple fact is that we elect lawmakers to do the people’s business. This year they have largely failed to do so – and Ventura is right to call attention to that fact.