At the onset of the legislative session Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) established three specific priorities, which the legislature has largely ignored: Stable funding for transportation and transit, ditch buffers on agricultural lands to protect the state’s water supply from agricultural pollution and universal, voluntary pre-K education for four year-olds. Normally, governors get 85% of what they want and in each of these areas the legislature has come up drastically short.
This backhand delivered by the legislature to the governor only warrants its own corporal response. Governor Dayton should veto the Agricultural Finance and Natural Resources, and Education Bills and demand a Transportation Finance Bill in a Special Session. Especially because the Ag/Nat Bill effects many rural communities, which Republicans claim as their core constituency. The bills that are coming to his desk are woefully inadequate.
As we heard at the start of the legislative session this is the Governor Unbound, he should prove he embodies the self-declared moniker. It is important that the governor carry through with his threat to veto the Education Bill and by vetoing the Agricultural Finance and Natural Resources Bill he hits the Republican House right in their proverbial bread basket.
When one looks at the bills headed to the governor it is easy to see the slight.
The Transportation Omnibus Bill is a “Lights on Provision”, is mainly about policy and it enables a continuation of the discussion next legislative session, or when the legislature next meets. The bill does not address the governor’s concern for a stable funding resource to pay for road, bridges or transit needs.
There is no provision, study or any response to governor’s call for addressing or remediating the pollution caused by farm application of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. The agricultural industry has successfully asserted its influence forgoing any changes in agricultural policy or practice. This means farmers will continue to plant Round-Up Ready seeds, which are encased with the pollutants next season and our state’s waters are still in peril.
The E-12 Funding Bill lacks funding for any innovations in education and barely meets the effects of inflation. The only reason it does so is because inflation is at a historic low. After, nearly a decade of perpetual deficits, the Senate has succumbed to the pressures of the House, and made only moderate adjustments to the per pupil funding formula. If Minnesota seeks to reclaim its title as the “Brainpower state” it will need to wait for another opportunity.
During the press conference announcing the February Revenue forecast, we asked Governor Dayton if he consider his approach to be more of a long-term rather than a short-term as proposed by the House Republicans. He agreed with the premise of our question and thanked Publisher Shawn Towle for the idea, saying he was going to use that himself.
When one looks at the various budget bills it is hard to see any change in the funding mechanisms from past legislative sessions when the state faced large deficits. It is interesting to note in 1998, the DFL House Majority adjourned Sine Die because they for Baby Ed and Governor Arne Carlson (R) wanted Ex Post Facto legislation for Marvin Windows. When it became clear the House would not get what they wanted they adjourned Sine Die. Coincidentally, that is the same year the DFL lost the House Majority and Jesse Ventura (RP) became governor. In our opinion, this set the state on its path to ruin.
If we are to learn anything from the past it is our state moves forward when everyone is pulling in the same direction.