Our View: Scream it: Get the work done!
A News Tribune editorial first sounded the alarm two months ago. Now, with less than a week left in the legislative session, and with the Republican majority and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton seemingly no closer to compromise or agreement, there's a growing need to scream again. All Minnesotans can join:
No special session!
Get your work done — on time!
But good governance in St. Paul is growing increasingly unlikely with so many elected state leaders seemingly eager to show off for constituents how tough they can be, how unwilling to give, even a little, because compromise is weakness, and their side must win. It's an attitude easier to embrace with Monday's end-of-session cutoff not a deadline to avoid a government shutdown. Lawmakers more interested in personal and political victories than in doing what's best for all Minnesotans figure they can push their political stubbornness until June 30.
Except that not finishing their work on time on Monday will mean the need for a special session. And special sessions are expensive as heck to Minnesota taxpayers: a quarter of a million bucks for a 23-day special session in 2005, for example, according to Citizens Against Government Waste.
Special sessions, also, really, are supposed to be for emergencies. Real emergencies. Those times when Minnesotans need their elected leaders step up and provide the help they were elected to provide, like after natural disasters. Special sessions aren't supposed to be just another option in the negotiating process or something to fall back on when lawmakers fail to do their jobs — or refuse to, opting instead to waste days and weeks playing politics, vilifying the other party, and deepening Minnesota's political divide.
This session, Dayton refused to actively participate in budget negotiations, stating that letters he sent earlier detailing his budget priorities would suffice. And then Republican majority members produced budget bills on their own. No shocker when Dayton started vetoing them.
Left undone: a two-year, $46 billion state budget that remains the No. 1, gotta-get-it-done priority; a long-term transportation funding plan; a bonding bill with money for Duluth necessities like a conversion of the steam plant and University of Minnesota Duluth science building; a resolution to Real ID; and more. Mostly because of an unwillingness to give. Even a little.
Encouragingly, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Gov. Dayton and Republican legislative leaders both vowed as recently as late last week that they were still willing to work together.
"We have to get it resolved," Dayton said, according to the newspaper. "People shouldn't be surprised that this is very difficult to resolve. Their views are sincerely held and mine are sincerely held. ... But we'll get it done."
"The reality is, we've got to keep the state government operating," House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said.
Will it be reality, though, especially with so many indicators to the contrary to this point? All Minnesotans can scream for it. The alternative no one wants: a deepening political divide and a pricey overtime special session.