Amid a self-proclaimed budget impasse, administration officials and a House Republican leader traded barbs Thursday over the definition of “halfway” in spending targets as the legislative session barrels toward a midnight Monday deadline.
Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans and Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly told reporters that their boss, Gov. Mark Dayton, has already moved “halfway” in budget talks with the Republican-controlled Legislature.
But Rep. Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) followed the Dayton-appointed duo by calling their target “fake midpoint math.”
The two sides have been in closed-door budget negotiations for at least three weeks, hoping to find common ground on how to fund state government to the tune of about $45 billion. Both the House and Senate passed numerous budget bills but Dayton vetoed every one.
Thursday’s exchange comes a day after Dayton unveiled his “Meet Half Way” budget offer, which would set aside $138.39 million of the state’s projected $1.5 billion surplus for the judicial branch and cybersecurity and divide the remaining $1.36 billion between taxes and transportation, and all other spending projects, from education to health care.
Republicans contend they funded courts and cybersecurity in other bills, so the governor is picking-and-choosing the midway point.
“It’s not half,” said Knoblach, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s not close to half. This isn’t a halfway budget … nice try.”
Frans defended Dayton’s budget position by saying it’s “not the full ask” with cybersecurity upgrades (Dayton previously proposed $74 million to for state cyber defense) and that the judiciary deserves to be funded better than what the Legislature proposed in its vetoed omnibus public safety bill.
Both sides say the next move belongs to the other.
“We’re at an impasse,” Frans said.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton to use mediation to resolve a funding dispute. In an opinion issued Friday, the court also ruled that Dayton’s use of the line-item veto to strip biennial funding for the Legislature was constitutional.
A Ramsey County judge on Wednesday ruled that Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of legislative funding violated the state’s constitution.
House and Senate leadership OK a resolution to seek outside legal representation in an effort to restore funding for the Legislature that Gov. Mark Dayton line-item vetoed earlier this week.
Day three of the 2017 special session saw lawmakers pass final omnibus bills to be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, with weary House members wrapping up their work at 2:42 a.m. Friday following a week of long days — and nights — at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers on conference committees must sort through competing bills before finalizing a product to send to the governor.
The budget process explained — and why it matters
$45 billion plan is about a 10 percent increase over current biennium
Governor urges lawmakers to pass a big capital investment bill during budget-setting year; House Speaker has expressed doubt over bonding this session
It was a day of selfies, swearings-in and standing ovations as the House opened the 2017-18 biennial session Tuesday.