Gov. Mark Dayton and his fellow DFLers in the Legislature again reached an impasse with House Republicans on Friday, as the two sides failed to agree on terms of a special legislative session to solve three problems the parties say need to be addressed.
Dayton proposed a special session late last year to deal with layoffs among Iron Range workers hit by the global mining recession; wealth and income disparities between white and black Minnesotans, and the state’s noncompliance with the federal Real ID law.
The federal government recently gave travelers an extension on complying with the law, which would eventually force Minnesotans to show a passport at the airport because the state’s driver’s licenses do not comply.
Dayton, who has already proposed a number of legislative steps to deal with the issues, said he will make another written offer to legislative leaders on Monday.
The issue of income disparities has come to the fore because of census data released last year showing a worsening problem.
It appears to be the most contentious issue among the three.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said that while he hoped legislators could come to an agreement to act quickly, he also believes that the issues can be dealt with when the Legislature convenes for its regularly scheduled session on March 8.
In what could be a preview of an acrimonious legislative session during a year when all 201 legislative seats will be up for election, Dayton lashed out at House Republicans after the meeting.
“It’s very, very unfortunate that people in severe duress on the Iron Range have to be batted about as part of a political game for reasons that escape me,” Dayton said.
He added that not taking up the problem of income disparities between black and white residents would be “shameful.”
Republicans have proposed a tax credit for private school choice as a way to improve educational outcomes of minority and impoverished families.
Susan Closmore, a spokeswoman for House Republicans, said that the parties are in agreement on Iron Range unemployment benefits and the Real ID issue, but that the DFL “refuses to recognize that income disparities and Minnesota’s failure to reduce the achievement gap for minority and low-income students are directly connected.”