Dayton OKs most of budget, aims for second overtime session

Published 8:03 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed most of a $46 billion budget but vetoed funding specifically for the state Legislature after what he deems a “sneak attack” on a key state agency funding.

The Democratic governor signed several bills and said he’d allow a $650 million in tax cuts to become law without his signature. But he blasted a provision that would have made funding for the Department of Revenue contingent on his approval of the tax bill.

By removing funding for the Legislature, Dayton hopes to gain leverage to call lawmakers back to the Capitol on his terms for another special session. He says the Legislature needs to remove tax breaks for estates and tobacco products he worries will harm the state’s financial future.

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By signing much of the budget but removing the Legislature’s funding, Dayton made clear he hoped to spare the pain of a government shutdown while forcing Republican legislative leaders back to the Capitol — on his terms.

Among them, Dayton says lawmakers must agree to remove tax breaks for tobacco products and estate taxes and reduce the scope of a property tax reduction for businesses.

“I refuse to allow the state’s financial security to be jeopardized by excessive tax giveaways, which do not benefit most Minnesotans,” Dayton said Tuesday evening.

Dayton’s action was sparked in part by Republicans’ recently approved budget making funding for the state’s Department of Revenue contingent upon the governor signing the tax bill — a maneuver Dayton called a “sneak attack” that forced his hand to sign off on those tax breaks.

Minnesota lawmakers spilled into overtime last week after passing their deadline to finish the budget. The Legislature finished passing the remaining budget bills early Friday morning.