Politicians assess

by Coralie Carlson

Gov. Jesse Ventura might be one of the most well-known governors in the nation, but now Minnesotans must wait to see if he can use his power as effectively as he’s used his popularity.
The state Legislature will tackle several contentious and spendy issues this session — from the University’s $1.28 billion budget request to a hefty tax break. Legislators and University officials can only speculate Ventura’s actual influence on these bills.
Gov. Arne Carlson was a “back door” governor — he would not actively participate in the bill-making process until it came to his desk for a signature or veto, said Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Thief River Falls.
“The ultimate power of a governor to veto a bill can never be discounted,” Rep. Peggy Leppik, R-Golden Valley, said. “If you go too far out of line you’re begging for a veto.”
If Ventura does veto a bill, the Legislature can override it with a two-thirds majority vote.
Leppik, who chairs the higher education funding committee in the House, said she plans to cooperate with the administration and she believes higher education is one of Ventura’s priorities.
Right now, legislators are waiting for Ventura to produce a budget and outline his official policies for the session.
“It’s really in the governor’s hand. How committed is he to higher education?” asked Stumpf, who chairs the higher education funding committee in the Senate.
“Is he interested in research?” Stumpf asked. “Is he interested in some of the programs the University has been requesting the last couple of years?” Recently, University officials have concentrated on cellular and molecular biology and digital technology programs.
The senator said he’s waiting to see some legislative liaison emerge in Ventura’s staff to work with the House and Senate all session long.
“I don’t see that person right now, maybe as appointments start surfacing,” Stumpf said.