After further disagreements over transportation, Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday issued his second declaration that no special session would occur by the November election.
Dayton sent Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt two letters explaining his decision, saying the proposed transportation spending was brazenly political and did not square with statewide needs.
“This earmarking of specific projects prioritizes them ahead of other much-needed transportation improvements elsewhere in our state, many of which have been ranked higher” by transportation officials, Dayton wrote. “The [transportation] department’s long-established protocol, employed by previous Republican and Democratic administrations, is designed to insulate those critically important decisions from elected officials.”
The debate over the special session and how to spend money is steeped in election-year politics.
Daudt called it “unfortunate” that Dayton won’t call a special session. “Governor Dayton and Democrats are leaving middle-class families and communities behind by walking away from bills the governor acknowledges are good for Minnesota,” Daudt said in a statement.
In an interview, Daudt defended the earmarks, saying safety improvements to highways have been long needed and would save lives.
Dayton and legislative leaders have met on and off since the spring legislative session collapsed in May without agreement on millions of dollars in construction projects and a transportation funding package. Legislators sought a special session to pass the construction measure and to fix a tax package that included an error that would cost the state $100 million. The $260 million tax plan included tax reductions for veterans, farmers and students with college debt.
“Given the facts that these negotiations have taken place over the past four months without reconciliation, and that only 46 days now remain until the upcoming election, I have reluctantly concluded that the time for agreement on a special session has expired,” Dayton said in his letter.