Gov. Dayton unwilling to negotiate with Republicans without bills in hand

by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton today (Wednesday, May 4) spoke of “waning” optimism in regard to the legislative session being completed on time.

He again reiterated his desire to have Republican conference committee reports all sent to him prior to the beginning of budget negotiations.

“So I’m waiting,” he said.

Dayton indicated he would not accept Republican legislators sending him their conference committee reports on the eve of the last day of session. “I’m not agreeable to a $5 billion (budget) cut,” he said. “I’m not going to begin negotiating until they send me conference committee reports,” said Dayton.

Moreover, Dayton indicated he would not accept the fiscal rational behind the Republican budget bills — administration officials have estimated the Republican bills are more than $1 billion out of balance.

Republicans refute this.

But to accept the Republican fiscal logic would be to negotiate with “fiction,” said Dayton.

“The Obama Administration is not going to grant that — nor should they,” he said of a Republican longed-for federal Medicaid waiver.

Addressing other topics, Dayton indicated he would not accept Republican redistricting legislation without bipartisan support — recent votes have been party line, he said. “It has to be bipartisan,” he said of a final product.

Dayton held out the possibility of a special session to address redistricting.

Speaking on gun legislation carried in the House by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, that would broaden state law in regard to private citizens using deadly force, Dayton said his public safety commissioners have expressed to him law enforcement’s concerns over the legislation.

That is, there’s worries, Dayton explained, that broadening the self-defense laws could have police officers shot at while crossing lawns in pursuit of suspects. While “sympathetic” to concerns some in the public might feel about their personal safety, Dayton said Cornish’s bill goes well beyond these concerns.

Cornish’s bill passed another House committee today.

On other matters, Dayton said he would be willing to sign a bonding bill, or even a Vikings stadium bill, prior to conclusion of budget negotiations.

Told of someone visiting Washington to gather insights on budgeting, Dayton respond with a one-liner. “Anybody who’s going to Washington for advice on how to solve a budget deficit is heading in the wrong direction,” he quipped.

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