Higher ed bill moves slowly

The fate of the University’s 1998-99 biennial budget was still unknown late Monday night as the Legislature wrapped up its 1997 session.
The state’s higher education funding bill, which includes the University’s $151 million increase, passed through both houses on Thursday, but had not reached Gov. Arne Carlson’s desk by late Monday afternoon.
Brian Dietz, Carlson’s press secretary, said Carlson would not act on the higher education bill on Monday because of how late it arrived on his desk. The bill arrived before midnight, the time when, according to the state constitution, all bills for the current legislative session must pass both houses and be given to the governor for his signature or veto.
The Democratic leadership in both Houses ordered that the bill be delayed a few days before moving to the governor because of fear of a veto. Democratic legislators wanted to present Gov. Carlson with the higher education bill along with the tax bill, the property tax bill and the controversial K-12 education bill before the Monday deadline.
The lateness of the higher education bill’s arrival could make it more difficult for Carlson to veto the bill.
Because the bill arrived on Monday, Carlson has 14 days to sign or veto the bill. Had it arrived before Monday, the governor would have had only three days to sign or veto the bill. Dietz said it is still unclear whether Carlson will sign the bill. If Carlson ignores the bill, the bill is treated as a veto after the 14-day period expires.
Unless a late-night agreement was worked out for the K-12 bill, a special session is likely. A vetoed higher education bill could be worked out in the special session.
— Chris Vetter