It's been just 10 days since legislators ended their regular session without a signed budget agreement. After a five-month session, Dayton and the GOP majorities in the House and Senate failed to reach an accord. Dayton vetoed nearly every major budget bill and Republicans rejected his call for higher taxes on the wealthy to the very end.Although I'm not sure Star Tribune reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger meant to do it, she gave away the game in the last graph. $34 billion is what the State of Minnesota can expect to have in the next two years. Dayton's problem is that he wants to spend more than that.
Since then, the situation has devolved to the point where some lawmakers are treating a July government shutdown as a near-certainty. Without an approved budget, state government's spending authority expires July 1, leaving a $34 billion operation to an uncertain fate.
But can he explain why? If he could, he wouldn't have to resort to no-showing his administrators before a legislative hearing:
The hard feelings deepened further on Thursday when Dayton announced he was instructing his commissioners not to testify before a legislative budget commission Thursday afternoon. The GOP legislative leaders had requested Dayton's finance and revenue commissioners both appear for questioning.Public berating is no big deal, actually, no matter how much Mark Dayton may claim otherwise. The Republicans get publicly berated every day. Dayton's entire career is based on his ability to berate Republicans, or more to the point, his willingness to have supposedly unrelated 3rd parties like Alliance for a Better Minnesota run nasty ads and interference on his behalf. What Dayton can't tolerate is having his minions answer tough questions that are part of the public record.
Dayton called the hearing "contrived political theater" and said he would not allow Republicans to publicly berate his agency heads.
Dayton now wants a "public mediator" to get involved in the impasse. Mitch Berg makes the salient point about that nonsense:
By the way – ask your lawyer (or any lawyer) about the wisdom of “getting a mediator” when your opponent is dealing in bad faith. There is none.
If Dayton wanted to demonstrate good faith, he'd pull the Alliance for a Better Minnesota ads. But he won't do that. The lege is going to hang tough because, in the end, they will win this one. And they should.