ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Gov. Mark Dayton made good on his promise Thursday morning and vetoed the Republican tax bill while visiting a local elementary school.
The governor is insisting emergency school funding be part of the bargain, so he is took his veto pen to Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul. He spent some time chatting with the kids, showing them pictures of his dogs and taking questions. Among them, “Are you famous?” He replied no.
The Senate passed the tax conformity bill Wednesday afternoon along party lines—a one-vote margin. The governor had already said he would veto it, which is why the Legislature hurried the votes through to give as much time to negotiate a compromise as possible.
It is rare to take a veto on the road, but Dayton did so because he said he does not like a tax bill that gives big breaks to the wealthy and corporations, while at the same time Republicans will not respond to his request for $138 million in emergency, one-time funding for schools facing budget shortfalls.
The bill gives slight income tax reductions that Dayton says are too small at the bottom end of the tax bracket and disproportionately bigger for wealthier Minnesotans and businesses.
But, he said he will go along with the bill if the Legislature helps him out with emergency funding for schools.
Republican leaders Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka say the school funding issue is a non-starter. They point out that they gave schools additional funding last year in the budget and that Dayton’s proposal came too late for lawmakers to give any attention to it.
“What the governor did today is veto a bill that would have put money in low and middle-income Minnesotans pockets," Daudt said at a press conference Thursday. "I am incredibly disappointed that the governor has decided to play politics with this bill instead of giving Minnesotans some certainty and allowing them to file their taxes more easily next year."
The governor’s offices says the issue became clear to the governor in recent weeks and he unveiled his proposal on May 1—the same day the Senate came out with their tax plan.
Daudt and Gazelka sent Dayton a letter Thursday morning asking him to meet with them to begin "negotiations in earnest on the various issues we have all expressed a commitment to addressing this year."
The legislative session ends on Sunday at midnight.