ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has announced his decisions on the budget bills passed during a 75-hour special session that ended just before Memorial Day weekend. The governor has signed the nine budget bills and the bonding bill, and he will allow the tax bill to become law without his signature. The governor stood by his promise to veto the labor bill that prevents cities from enacting their own minimum wage and sick time policies.
In the case of the tax bill, Republicans inserted a clause holding hostage the funding of the Revenue Department to ensure that he does sign it.
"Please be advised that I am returning without signature Chapter 1, House File 1. By allowing it to become 'enacted,' I am fulfilling the requirement to protect the funding for the Department of Revenue, which you snuck into the State Government Bill without my knowledge," the governor wrote in a letter to House Speaker Kurt Daudt.
After the special session, the governor telegraphed his displeasure with the tax cut bill. He said it gave too many breaks to the wealthy.
To ensure the governor signs it, lawmakers buried a poison pill in the government finance bill, which funds the Department of Revenue for the next two years at $310 million. But it contains a one-sentence clause stating the funding is not effective until the day after the enactment of Special Session House File 1 – the tax bill.
"We didn't want to risk that this could be vetoed without any consequences,” Speaker Daudt said. “So the funding for the Revenue Department is attached to a signature on the tax bill. If the tax bill does not get signed, the Revenue Department will not get funded."
As payback to Republicans for their tax bill poison pill, the governor used his line-item veto authority to remove funding for the House and Senate. Dayton refuses to call a special session to restore the funding until legislative leaders agree to repeal the ban on undocumented immigrant drivers licenses in the public safety bill.
Gov. Dayton was under heavy pressure from teachers, union members, immigrant groups, and even some DFL lawmakers to veto many of the budget bills. But the governor on Friday warned another special session may not solve the problem.
"The question is, do you come back in the third week of fourth week of June?” the governor asked. “I think it's unrealistic that we'd come back out with better bills."
Speaker Daudt agrees.
“I don't see things getting easier if we were to not sign these bills and we go into a second special session,” Daudt said.
Read Gov. Dayton's letter to legislative leaders at http://mn.gov/gov-stat/pdf/2017_05_30_Letter_To_Leaders.pdf