Editorial: Evidence points to cooperation

Published 9:23 am Friday, March 27, 2015

Some observers of the Minnesota Legislature have concluded the partisan differences are clearly emerging at this point of the session, and these rifts foreshadow a combative end to the session.

At first glance, we can understand why political pundits are foreseeing a divisive conclusion leading up to the adjournment scheduled for May 18.

On Monday, House Republican leaders announced a $7 billion plan to repair our roads and bridges without raising taxes. Last month, Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a much larger $11 billion proposal that would tax gasoline at the wholesale level, resulting in an estimated 16-cent per gallon bump at the pump. The governor’s plan also would increase vehicle registration fees and impose a half-cent metro sales tax increase. The DFL-led Senate has put forward a similar transportation plan.

Email newsletter signup

Last week, Dayton outlined how he wants to spend the state’s $1.9 billion budget surplus. The plan contrasts with a proposal that’s been gaining momentum with Republicans who want to give the cash back to Minnesotans in the form of tax cuts.

From the emphatic rhetoric of the Republican majority in the House and the Democratic governor, it’s easy to predict an impasse, especially with the not-so-distant memory of the 20-day state government shutdown in July 2011.

But we believe the principals in this year’s negotiations will keep the drama to a minimum as they work out their differences. Dayton, near the end of his news conference on his budget priorities last week, said he was willing to negotiate, even if it meant making concessions he didn’t like. “Compromise means you agree to things you don’t agree with,” he said.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Republican from Crown, impressed us with his negotiating skills during the last two sessions as the House minority leader. We fully expect him to continue to live up to his reputation as a conciliator now that he’s the leader of the majority party.

Dayton’s most difficult adversary during this session might be someone from his own party. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat from Cook, has a history of dust-ups with the governor, most recently when Bakk opposed Dayton’s plan for pay raises for two dozen members of his Cabinet.

Instead of being discouraged by the partisan posturing, which is to be expected with nearly two months left in the session, we’ve been heartened by recent events in the Legislature.

Last week, a bipartisan effort moved through the House as Rep. Tina Liebling, a Democrat from Rochester, and Rep. Joe Schomacker, a Republican from Luverne, both introduced legislation to increase state reimbursement for Minnesota’s nursing homes. Daudt announced his caucus budget plan includes $160 million for nursing homes, far above the $25 million Dayton has earmarked for nursing homes in his budget.

Two weeks ago, the Purple Caucus, a bipartisan group in the Senate, declared its list of legislative priorities, such as increased funding for K-12 education, more dedicated funding for transportation and enhanced protections for children. The caucus, which was co-founded by Sen. Jeremy Miller, a Republican from Winona, and Sen. Roger Reinert, a DFLer from Duluth, has grown to 23 members — more than one-third of the Senate’s full body of 67 — since its inception two years ago with just six senators.

We suggest that the skeptics used to seeing a pugilistic end to the session look past the rhetoric and focus on the actions. There’s plenty of reason to be encouraged.


— Rochester Post Bulletin, March 25

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

email author More by Editorial