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Governor Dayton Vetoes Tax, Spending Bills, GOP Responds

Governor Mark Dayton announced Wednesday, May 23, that he had vetoed the omnibus tax and emergency education aid bill along with the supplemental budget bill. With the exception of the capital improvements bonding bill, the governor's veto prevented that vast majority of the legislative work in 2018 from becoming law.

"We agreed that we must reform elder care, address the opioid epidemic and ensure safe schools for our children. Yet instead of coming together to find shared solutions to these critical issues, you have deposited them into a 989 page budget bill, with 51 policy provisions, which I oppose. The legislative gamesmanship was terrible, and I will not sign the result," Governor Dayton wrote in his veto message.

Republican members, including Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, decried the veto, saying that many Minnesotans will be hurt by the governor's actions. "In the end it feels impulsive, it feels vindictive and it didn't help anybody in Minnesota," Gazelka said of the vetoes. Republicans distributed a list of people who will be impacted by the veto, and the list included many of the groups who appeared before legislators in 2018: taxpayers who will need to complete more complicated tax forms; students in schools without new gun-protection safety features; people fighting opioid addiction and victims of elder abuse.

During his press conference on the vetoes, Governor Dayton did not negate the possibility of calling lawmakers back into a lame-duck special session following the November election to pass tax conformity measures.

Legislative Effort to Fight Opioid Addiction Criticized

Senator Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center and supporters of an effort to impose a "penny-a-pill" charge on the sale of opioid painkillers criticized state lawmakers Tuesday, May 22, for passing legislation they claim falls short of their original goals. Specifically, Governor Dayton proposed raising $20 million dollars for efforts to curb opioid addiction, and that measure was later modified in the Senate to impose a fee rather than a per pill charge. In the end, lawmakers did advance funding in the supplemental appropriations bill to support grants to opioid addiction treatment programs.

"Taxpayers have paid enough. We don't need taxpayer funds to pay to remedy this situation. The pharmaceutical companies caused this epidemic," said Eaton in criticizing the legislation that uses general fund money rather than a new tax or fee on pharmaceutical companies. "As far as I'm concerned, they killed them, and I am angry," said Eaton in reference to Minnesotans who have died as a result of their addiction to opioids.

Citizens Urge Governor Dayton to Sign Budget, Tax Bills

In an effort to convince Governor Dayton to sign the budget and tax bills passed during the 2018 session, GOP leaders, joined by several citizens, identified various items of importance to them in the pending spending and tax legislation.

About a dozen citizens addressed the media Monday, May 21, including Gaye Smith, manager at the Deputy Registrar at South St. Paul, who called upon Governor Dayton to sign the supplemental budget bill, which includes compensation for many of the business owners who lost business transactions due to the software failure of the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS).

Other citizens who spoke included David Karcher, who owns group homes, and expressed concern about possible cuts in the disability waiver system. Kevin Papp, a farmer, spoke about the need for funding for farmer's mental health services, and Kelsey Yasgar spoke of the importance of school safety for her daughter's school.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said the press conference is the start of speaking out on important provisions in the bills. Governor Dayton earlier said he would take several days to review the omnibus spending measure, which includes several policies positions.

Bonding Bill Resurrected, Sent to Governor

A capital investment bonding bill was resurrected in the waning hours of the 2018 legislative session and given its final Senate approval Sunday, May 20, before being approved by the House. The $1.43 billion dollar package was sent to Governor Dayton, and it is unknown if he will sign the revised plan.

As previously considered by the Senate, the bill authorizes the sale of $825 million dollars in bonds, but the measure also includes the sale of $416 million dollars in trunk highway bonds. Other sources of revenue raises the total to $1.43 billion dollars, and the higher amount, coupled with the various statewide projects, earned the 41 required votes for Senate passage.

The plan provides $79.4 million dollars to the University of Minnesota and $129 million dollars to Minnesota State. It also provides $25 million dollars in school safety grants, which were a high priority for legislators following the recent school shootings. Other significant funds boost the Corridors of Commerce program, which improves heavily used highways. About $64.3 million dollars is designated for several wastewater treatment and infrastructure improvements throughout Minnesota. Another $90 million dollars is geared for housing and another $28 million dollars for regional mental health crisis centers.

"This bill is going to put a lot of people to work, no question about it," said Capital Investment Chair David Senjem, R-Rochester, as he urged lawmakers to support the measure. Senator Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, decried the lack of transit funding in the bill. "What this bill says is that we just don't care," he said. "The governor proposed $50 million dollars in this bill. Zero showed up."

Governor Dayton Expresses Dismay Over End of Session

Governor Mark Dayton held a media availability Sunday, May 20, to express his dismay and frustration over the tax and spending bills being sent for his consideration. He also responded to the Republican leaders' characterization that he has not cooperated with them in end-of-session negotiations.

Governor Dayton said he felt compelled to speak to the press to respond to the "repetition of gross untruths" about his reasons for vetoing the bill to fund deputy registrars who have suffered financially during the MNLARs rollout, his objections to the tax conformity bill and his request for a stand-alone safe schools bill among other issues.

Republican Leaders Urge Dayton to Sign Budget, Tax Bills

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Kurt Daudt urged Governor Mark Dayton to sign the supplemental budget bill and the tax bill, which contains about $225 million dollars for schools and protects nearly all Minnesotans from higher income taxes as a result of the federal tax changes.

Earlier, the Senate and House passed their tax plan and provided $225 million dollars for education through appropriations from the budget reserve and by shifting dollars from school trust lands, staff development funds and community education.

The leaders addressed the media hours before final adjournment Sunday, May 20. They also promoted support for the revised bonding bill, which, according to senate Capital Investment Chair David Senjem offers about $1.5 billion in projects throughout Minnesota and includes new transportation project initiatives.

Minnesota Senate Media Services
The Minnesota Senate provides live and archive coverage of Senate floor sessions, committee hearings, press conferences and special events. Capitol Report, a weekly public affairs program, and civic education videos also are archived. All programming is produced by Senate Media Services. Audio coverage is recorded and reported by Senate Committee staff and Senate Sergeant At Arms office.

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