Gov. shouldn’t call special session; It’s time to make legislators face the music

Published 10:09 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

St. Cloud Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

Earlier, the Times Editorial Board gave this advice to Gov. Mark Dayton: Don’t call a special session. Make the lawmakers deal with the consequences of failing to find agreement on some major legislation.

Email newsletter signup

Well, weeks after the “unfinished business” session lurched to adjournment, there is still no reason for Dayton to call a special session.

The private, high-level talks between Dayton and Senate and House leaders appear to have failed to produce movement toward settling disputes and finding any compromise clearing the way for lawmakers to return.

Dayton and Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt traded accusations Tuesday after meeting for less than an hour about who was to blame for the lack of progress. It’s unclear when the two sides may meet again, according to an Associated Press report.

Dayton’s glum status report: “We’re moving backward.”

Daudt claims Dayton hasn’t moved on his demands, including funding for a Southwest Metro Light Rail Transit funding to allow the state to gain close to a $1 billion in federal funding for the project.

But Dayton also criticized Daudt for proposing two measures Tuesday the governor deemed controversial: tax credits for private schools and legislation that could block Minnesota cities from raising minimum wages, according to the AP.

Daudt said it was unreasonable for Dayton to expect to see his own wish list fulfilled without making some concessions to Republican requests.

So here we sit. No progress. There also isn’t a firm deadline, although the state budget for the new fiscal year kicks in July 1. The governor can call a special session at any time. At this rate, we may not see a special session until Labor Day.

But that’s OK with the editorial board. We realize the biggest pressure for a special session will be lawmakers realizing that they won’t have a very good message to take to voters in November. All seats in the House and Senate are on the 2016 ballot.

So what remains dead in the water is the transportation funding bill, a public works construction bill, and a $260 million tax bill Dayton vetoed because it had a one-word error that would have cost the state millions in revenue.

Leaders from both parties should have realized that this was a short session. Leave the bigger budget battles for the other, longer session.

Perhaps it is time for the Legislature to rethink how they do business and make significant changes.