By Kathy Lohmer – Guest Columnist
I’d like the opportunity to respond to a recent ECM editorial and correct some misinformation regarding the conclusion of the 2017 Legislative Session – most specifically Gov. Dayton’s decision to eliminate funding for the Minnesota Legislature.
Let’s be clear. The only reason we are in this position is because Gov. Dayton once again did not want to negotiate in good faith with the Legislature.
Last year, Gov. Dayton said he would approve a tax relief proposal if the Legislature agreed to some of his proposals. After lawmakers did that, he went back on his word and vetoed the plan.
This year, he once again indicated he would support a tax relief proposal. Then Gov. Dayton said he would have vetoed the tax relief proposal had the Revenue Departments’ funding not been contingent upon its enactment.
Does this sound like someone who negotiates in good faith?
To avoid the usual last-minute negotiating headaches, this year the Legislature set historically early deadlines and approved not one, but two rounds of budget bills. The governor did not engage in compromise discussions during the first round – approved a month before session ended – and only began to take an interest as the final days approached.
The editorial attempts to portray legislative leaders as some stealth, covert operation that blindsided the governor’s office with the revenue department funding language.
The reality is this: Gov. Dayton – not to mention his commissioners – negotiated these budget bill compromises from start to finish. They either knew the provision was there and didn’t think it was worth haggling over, or they were inept when it came to proofreading the final proposals before giving them their blessing.
The bill was also posted for 39 hours before it received any legislative debate. Yet the governor’s office said nothing – before, during, or after negotiations had concluded – until the proposal arrived at his desk for his signature.
With that in mind, if the editorial board truly believes that the “governor’s staff haven’t had time to read, let alone understand” these budget bills, doesn’t that suggest embarrassing incompetence by the Dayton team?
So now Gov. Dayton has created a situation where he wants the Legislature to return in a special session to undo compromise agreements to which he and his staff agreed, and signed into law, because he no longer likes the agreements and wants a better deal for himself. Remember, the budget is set and our work is done, but the governor has decided to eliminate all funding for the Legislature for the next two years because he is no longer OK with the budget deal he negotiated and enacted.
Again I ask, does this sound like someone who negotiates in good faith?
To be clear, I don’t expect the ECM Editorial Board to have all the details on the happenings of state government. In this instance, Gov. Dayton has attempted to portray himself as a victim even though he and his staff were involved in every step of the process, and this editorial somewhat agreed.
Gov. Dayton is not the victim; he is the sole cause of this Capitol chaos because he’s refusing to live up to the compromise agreements he personally negotiated and signed.
While this is clearly problematic for state lawmakers, these actions by our chief executive should be most worrisome for Minnesotans.
State Representative Kathy Lohmer (R-Stillwater) represents Minnesota House District 39B, which includes communities in Washington County.