With 9,400 layoffs on the line for Minnesota employees, the latest glitch holding up a special session is a new law that strips powers from the state auditor. It's a provision in a bill the governor actually signed, but now, he wants it rescinded. The provision is part of the bill that funds a large chunk of state government operations, and Dayton didn't want to potentially force more any more layoffs.
Long before he was Gov. Mark Dayton, and even Sen. Dayton, he was State Auditor Dayton, and he's now defending his old office from a new law taking away some of its power.
A provision passed in the state government bill in the closing hours of the legislature. In that 100-page bill, the provision is just one sentence long:
"A county may choose to have [its yearly] audit performed by the state auditor, or may choose to have the audit performed by a CPA firm."
Current State Auditor Rebecca Otto believes bypassing her audit compromises the oversight of taxpayer dollars.
"The deal is, we oversee that money whether they like it or not, and it's just part of government. It's part of our trust in government and part of making sure we don't have corruption in government," Otto said.
Currently, counties may request the state auditor's office to have a private firm conduct their audits. The office does grant them on a rotating basis. However, the new law would strip even that oversight, and if the law is not changed, Otto has threatened to sue.
"I will do whatever it takes. Absolutely, I will fight this until the end to make sure this function is preserved for the people of Minnesota," Otto said.
Plus, at the moment, it's holding up a special session.
"For people to come in and run state government who don't believe in the function of state government, it would be like somebody going and applying for the CEO of Coca-Cola and saying, ‘I don't like coke. I drink Pepsi," Dayton said. "Well, fine. Then go work for Pepsi. Don't try to dismantle Coca-Cola because you don't like it."
House Speaker Kurt Daudt has been saying he doesn't believe there are enough votes to overturn the law and therefore did not want to bring this up in the special session.