Gov. Mark Dayton signed off on a half-billion dollar package of construction and infrastructure projects for the state on Friday.
Signing the $496 million bonding bill into law one day after the Vikings stadium bill passed, Dayton told reporters, was a highlight in an otherwise "disappointing" session.
"It's not as much as I had hoped for," Dayton said, noting that the bill did not include funds for regional projects like the Southwest light rail line, a new minor league ballpark for St. Paul or civic centers for Rochester, Mankato or St. Cloud. Still, the bill includes millions for "important projects, ones that will benefit the people of Minnesota...and most important, put thousands of people to work throughout Minnesota, which is the number one priority of this Legislative session."
Still, he said, the passage of a new Vikings stadium bill -- which he will be signing into law shortly -- are the highlights of a bruising 87th legislative session.
"I feel sort of like the golfer who's had 16 terrible holes and then gets a birdie and then gets an eagle," he said. At first, you walk off the course feeling good, he said, but when you add up the scores, "you realize, no, it wasn't very good after all. That's the way I looked at the session."
Dayton said it has been difficult to work collaboratively with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, who he said "were more interested in passing bills and setting them up for vetoes than working anything out in advance."
One of the last bills to pass the Legislature before it adjourned this week was a package of business tax cuts that has been one of the GOP caucuses' top priorities. Dayton vetoed an earlier version of the bill last Friday, but said he wouldn't veto the new, scaled down, package of tax cuts immediately.
"I promised (Senate Majority Leader Dave) Senjem that I would look at it, read it carefully and think about it thoroughly, so I intend to do that," Dayton said.
The DFL governor urged voters to consider electing a Democratic majority to the Legislature this November.
"Two years of divided government hasn't been productive," Dayton said. "I'll ask Minnesota to give us two years of DFL majorities in the House and Senate and a DFL governor, and if we don't produce to your satisfaction, there's another election two years later...throw me and the House out. Give us a chance."
House GOP spokeswoman was less than impressed by the governor's offer. She tweeted: "Give DFL a chance; if they can't deliver throw them out in 2 yrs. That's the campaign message? Minnesota can't wait for a beta test."