Bipartisanship disappeared in both Minnesota and Florida this spring.
And in both states, major employers rose up and lashed out at the extreme positions politicians took.
Minnesota's Legislature just wrapped up a session in which lawmakers from the dominant Democratic party raised the state's spending by 37% and enacted a passel of progressive policies.
In Florida's Republican-dominated statehouse, lawmakers this month passed a 6.3% budget increase and new restrictions on abortion, gender-related medical care and its "Don't Say Gay" law that applies to schools.
When I took the business columnist role early this year, I knew there would be times when I would have to write that a business making a move in its interest was justified. This is one of those times.
In Minnesota, Mayo Clinic was right to fight a bill that gave nurses far greater power in the running of hospitals. And in Florida, Disney was right to fight Gov. Ron DeSantis' punitive measures against it.
First, let's concentrate on the matter at home. Since the November election gave Minnesota Democrats control of the Senate while retaining the House and governor's office, they've lived a fever dream.
The economic recovery since the pandemic blessed our state government with far greater revenue than expected, adding about $10 billion to several billion dollars that accumulated over the last decade as revenue exceeded spending.
Democrats spent most of it. They also showered workers with policies that will increase their leverage with Minnesota's employers, accelerating a shift in the balance of power in the workplace that demographics had already begun.
As part of that drive, Democrats aimed to deliver a policy that the Minnesota Nurses Association had been seeking since 2008 — a bigger say in how many nurses work in a hospital.
Nurses do work that is harder than most of would dare to take on. Over the pandemic, they did it amid immense uncertainty about a new virus.
And for years before that, nurses have also borne — like flight attendants, restaurant servers and police — the brunt of a coarsening society. Data shows that hospitals have become more violent.
However, as important as they are, nurses shouldn't get to decide when a hospital isn't delivering the right level of care. That's what the nurses' union wanted and what Democratic legislators were ready to give them until Mayo Clinic earlier this month threatened to stop some planned expansions in the state.
The legislation called for every Minnesota hospital to create committees — with nurses occupying 35% of the seats — that would set staffing levels. They'd have to turn to arbitration if the committees couldn't agree.
That would essentially hand control of a hospital away from executives and boards of directors, which they wouldn't and shouldn't accept. Hierarchies exist for a reason. They're efficient and they place accountability squarely on the shoulders of a few.
The perception among many nurses, and that their union tried to create with the public, is that hospitals are profiting while nursing is short-staffed.
Many hospitals aren't profitable these days for reasons that go well beyond staffing. Mayo is profitable. But Allina, Fairview and North Memorial, to name some hospitals in the Twin Cities, are losing money.
The legislation died Monday evening. After it did, lawmakers and the head of the Minnesota Nurses Association, Mary Turner, spoke gravely to reporters. Turner likened hospital executives to the violent patients that harm nurses.
Likewise in Florida, the DeSantis feud with Disney is shaped by false assumptions, innuendos and misbegotten bravado. Republican lawmakers last month stripped the company of self-governing authority in its resort district near Orlando, their biggest penalty against Disney for opposing the "Don't Say Gay" restrictions on teaching in Florida schools.
Disney sued the state and last week pulled out of plans for a $1 billion expansion there.
Disney isn't the only one being hurt. This week, Steve Schussler, the Minneapolis restaurant entrepreneur who has several businesses at Disney Springs in Florida, told the BBC he feels "disgusted and betrayed" by the taxes DeSantis wants to impose in the Disney resort area.
Finally, a word about the Minnesota state budget.
The 37% increase shatters the 20% to 30% range I estimated in Sunday's column that compared the hypergrowth of Minnesota's government to the meager growth of the state economy. It's the biggest jump in state spending since a 39% jump for the 1976-77 biennium.
For fiscal 2024-25 that starts July 1, the state's spending is set for $71.5 billion and revenue will be about $61 billion. The difference is being covered by rollover money that wasn't spent in previous years.
The state's spending in the 2026-27 biennium for the moment is set to drop to $66 billion, with revenue rising to around $65 billion. We'll see in 2025, when lawmakers formally prepare that budget, whether they stick to that.