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Dayton demands fiscal integrity from lawmakers

Gov. Mark Dayton comments at an April 7 press conference that he will be watching as the House and Senate begin their conference committee process after the Passover/Easter break. Photo by Paul Battaglia

With the Legislature poised to begin its Passover/Easter recess, Gov. Mark Dayton had a message for lawmakers who will return April 18 with five weeks left in the 2017 session and much yet to be done. 

“We’re not going to let the fiscal integrity we’ve worked hard to reestablish in the state be jeopardized for short-term political gains,” Dayton said during a press briefing Friday.

The governor called on legislative leaders to do as he said he’d done in January and put forward budget numbers that “add up,” which he said must be the starting point before real negotiations can begin.

“Once that’s achieved, we’ll get started,” Dayton said.

The governor said he’s had “cordial” lunches with several Republican leaders over the last couple of weeks but that “actions speak louder than words.”

He also mentioned provisions in several omnibus bills — including pre-K and transit funding, proposed modifications to the state’s buffer laws and the Enbridge pipeline — as issues that could draw his veto if left unchanged. 

And Dayton again urged lawmakers not to include policy provisions in budget bills, noting that one of the compromises that ended the 2011 government shutdown was to separate policy and budget items.

The governor said he “vividly” remembers the shutdown and, although there is still plenty of time remaining to resolve differences, the end of session seemed to be a “less compelling” deadline for lawmakers than in the past.

“If they choose to be confrontational, we’ll have confrontation,” Dayton said.

But the governor said his goal is to resolve differences on a timely bases, and that if lawmakers chose “reasonable accommodations” and “apples to apples” budget numbers, “then we have a reasonable opportunity to achieve that.”

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