DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and House GOP leaders reignited old feuds over transportation spending and the state’s troubled health insurance exchange on Wednesday.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said if he determines Dayton and his administration are not working feverishly to fix the individual health insurance market, Daudt will call on the governor to resign.
Daudt said during a Wednesday news conference that House Republicans and Senate DFLers are working on a legislative solution, but he said Dayton must show leadership: “He ought to have a command center set up 24/7, with a thousand people doing everything they can to solve this problem every minute of the day until they have it solved,” he said.
Dayton called a morning news conference to accuse Republicans of blocking $105 million in federal transportation money, potentially delaying 28 highway, road and bridge projects in communities including Forest Lake, New Ulm and Worthington.
He sent a letter to House Transportation Committee chairman Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, urging him to drop his objection to the funding: “Do not end your legislative career acting as an obstructionist to needed progress on highways, roads and bridges,” Dayton told Kelly, who is not seeking re-election.
Daudt said Dayton was clumsily trying to change the subject from soaring premiums for those who buy coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange, MNsure, covering about 250,000 Minnesotans.
The latest clash between Dayton and House Republicans is steeped in election-year politics, with all 201 legislative seats on the ballot and control of the House and Senate in the balance. Daudt is trying to build on his slim majority in the House, while Dayton is trying to help DFLers win control of the chamber, giving them full control at the Capitol for his final two years in office.
Earlier in the morning, Daudt sent a letter to the governor about MNsure, which Dayton led the charge to create. Daudt has been a regular critic of MNsure as he campaigns for GOP legislative candidates.
“This is the worst health care crisis many Minnesotans have ever faced,” Daudt said in the letter.
Dayton accused Republicans of playing politics with the issue. He said Daudt’s two-page letter is essentially a political document that “at the end says, ‘We’ll get back to you.’ ”
The governor said Republicans are stalling so they can continue to use the issue during the run-up to the election. “It would require setting the politics aside … working together to devise a solution,” Dayton said.
Daudt accused Dayton of concealing the health insurance problem until it was too late to do anything about it in an attempt to hide it from voters. “If that’s the real case, he ought to be ashamed,” Daudt said.
The speaker said he had not heard from Dayton in a month.
Of the bickering with Dayton, Daudt said, “He is literally the one who started it.”