Mark Dayton says special session disputes went beyond light rail

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, August 24, 2016

By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Last week, Gov. Mark Dayton said he was quitting what he called “futile” efforts to reach an agreement with Republicans on a special session of the Legislature.

Email newsletter signup

On Tuesday, he said the reasons for the stalemate were multiple.

“The claim that Southwest Light Rail was the only disagreement over a potential special session is blatantly untrue. When our negotiations ended, there were still no agreements on the earmarking of 21 transportation projects, the renovation of historic Fort Snelling, additional staff for the safe operation of the St. Peter treatment facilities, and others,” he said in a late afternoon statement.

On August 18, after months of period attempts, Dayton said he concluded that he and the DFL-controlled Senate could not resolve their differences. A resolution would have meant a short legislative session to approve money for statewide building projects and a tax cut bill.

At the time, Democrats and Republicans said they had resolved most of their issues but reached an impasse over the Southwest Light Rail Line, which would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Republican from Crown, said then that the lack of a special session was the fault of Democrats who held hostage an agreement for sake of the west metro light-rail line.

On Tuesday, Dayton said there were other issues as well — but differences over the rail line were a major stumbling block.

“For three months, Senate DFL leaders and I offered different options to fund Metro Transit that involved no state monies. Speaker Daudt rejected them all. His intransigence is the principal reason there will be no special session,” Dayton said in the statement.

Last week, Dayton met privately with Metropolitan Council Chair Adam Duininck. Dayton spokesman Sam Fettig said the two “discussed what options — if any — may exist to rescue Southwest Light Rail.” They may meet again this week.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.