This time, it was going to be different. New governor. Lots of new legislators. A clean slate.
Just a few weeks ago, lobbyists and Capitol watchers were telling this editorial board they were optimistic that this year Minnesota could maybe — just maybe — avoid the traditional train wreck at the end of the legislative session tunnel.
And then, last week, it went off the rails over budget proposals that are about $2 billion apart.
The self-imposed budget deadline missed, conference committees are forced to work on bills for which they have no funding clarity as the clock on this legislative session ticks down to adjournment May 20.
The governor is said to be willing to cut $200 million in spending from his original budget proposals. That’s a good start. However, he’s not talking much about reducing his proposed (and eye-popping) 20-cents-a-gallon gas tax hike.
The House Democrats said they’re willing to put $664 million in proposed spending back on the shelf if the Senate meets them halfway.
Leaders of the GOP-controlled Senate have made no such public declarations about what they’re willing to change.
They’re just willing to shift some money around, they said, but they’re not prepared to budge on their number. Nor will they specify what might be cut with their funding shifts.
So let the impasse begin.
In the last election, Minnesotans decided by fairly large margins to keep a DFLer in the governor’s chair and give DFLers more House seats. Republicans held the Senate — barely.
On that note: “No” is not a civilized negotiating stance; at least, it’s not a good one. At worst, it appears obstructionist. At best (we use the term loosely), it looks as if people who don’t know how negotiations work put the budget proposal together — with no room for give and take. Senate Republicans, please note.
Governing is compromise. Winning at all costs isn’t leadership — it’s tribalism. It’s pandering to the lowest common denominator, the segment of the electorate that can only see their team as a “winner” or a “loser” rather than as a force for good governance.
We are disappointed. Again.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ST. CLOUD TIMES