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After Monday’s tax veto, focus shifts to resurrecting nearly $1 billion bonding bill

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday asked legislative leaders to work with him to resolve their differences so they can meet in special session to pass new tax and bonding bills. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Now that the omnibus tax bill is off the table because of Gov. Mark Dayton’s pocket veto Monday, leverage for calling a special session seems to be moving toward resurrecting the capital investment bill, a casualty of the Legislature’s hurry-up-and-get-it done May 23 sine die deadline.

Legislative leaders and the governor met Tuesday in the aftermath of the tax bill veto. It seems, however, that talk was left for another day, with attention focused now on trying to salvage the nearly $1 billion capital investment bill. House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said the group will get together again June 15 to talk about bonding. In the meantime, House and Senate members who conferred the bill during session are expected to meet and mull over projects “in the bill and out,” Daudt said.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, left, talks with the media after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and other legislative leaders about the prospects for a special session. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, right, looks on. Photo by Paul Battaglia

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House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls) said that public vetting of a bonding bill is “really, really important, not just to hear what was in the bill that first passed off the House Floor, and not just to hear the governor’s proposals, but we also have members who have projects that they are very interested in.”

Looking back to the last night of session when the bill was first put forward for a vote, he said it was “ridiculous that we had no type of process whatsoever, especially on the House side for the bonding bill.”

WATCH Lt. Gov. Smith, DFL leadership media availability on YouTube

The bonding bill — that would have authorized $818 million in total bonding as part of a $1.1 billion package  — had bipartisan support, but was caught up a frenzied final minutes of the session.

Passed 91-39 by the House, the bill was sent to the Senate, which included, at the last minute, a provision to fund the proposed Southwest Light Rail Line. However, the House had adjourned for the year by the time the amended bill version of HF622 was returned for a final vote.

Daudt maintains that provision would not garner support in any new bonding proposal, while Dayton would like to see the project included.

“The bill we had on the last night of session was a compromise bill,” Daudt said. “It had the support of Republicans and Democrats … and it was not a small bill.”

WATCH House Floor debate of the omnibus capital investment bill on YouTube

House Speaker Kurt Daudt talks with the press after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and other legislative leaders, expressing hope they can work out their differences and have a special session to pass a new tax and bonding bills. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Since the end of session, the governor has set out several demands that he says must be met before he would call a special session. Legislative leaders say that Dayton keeps wanting more spending, especially for bonding projects, something Daudt says is cause for concern. At a Tuesday morning news conference, the governor indicated he’d like to see a final product in the $1.1 billion range. 

WATCH Gov. Dayton's Tuesday morning news conference on YouTube

“We are not going to let the governor get away with saying that we are going to start where we left off. Our position was $600 million; his was $1.4 [billion], and halfway was $1 billion. We were there the last night of session. That is compromise,” Daudt said.

He noted that more than half the bonding bill would have gone to fund the governor’s priorities, and that he was amiable to more public vetting of the proposals; however, if Dayton wants to start at “square one,” Daudt threatened to remove those projects and have him “argue for those projects to be put back in.”

Legislative leaders have already agreed to Dayton’s proposed fixes to the $259 million omnibus tax bill that could be reconsidered in a special session. 

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