House overrides Ventura’s state budget veto

Maggie Hessel-Mial

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Many members of the House followed this motto when they voted again Tuesday to override Gov. Jesse Ventura’s veto of the operating budget bill proposed last week.

In the first vote Monday, the override fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the motion.

This time, however, the House had enough votes to keep its bill and pass it into law. The motion passed 99-33 – nine more than necessary for passage.

“It’s a good result,” said Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan. “It doesn’t solve the whole problem, but I’m glad our DFL friends came to their senses.”

Earlier this week many House DFLers voted against the override, citing concerns about the bill’s $69 million cut to education.

“My main concern was the potential tuition increases for the University of Minnesota,” said Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal.

Legislators accomplished the override without changing the bill, which still cuts $50 million from higher education, including $23.6 million from the University’s 2003 state allocation.

One aspect that appeased many who leaned against the legislation was that Pawlenty said he and other ranking House members would try to keep education off the cutting board in the next phase of balancing the budget.

A phase II bill, which will address spending for fiscal years 2004-05, could be drawn up in the next few days if the Senate also overrides the veto Thursday. The phase II bill would then go to committee early next week for consideration.

Included in the next step, Pawlenty said, would be possible reductions to state agencies and more use of the available state funding reserves to take care of the $2.3 billion state budget deficit.

“We’ll take a similar approach as we did for phase I,” he said.

When Ventura vetoed the bill earlier this week, he said if the veto was overridden and the bill became law he would do his job to implement it.

“If they override the veto, it’s clear they get full responsibility for their actions,” Ventura said Monday.

John Wodele, spokesman for the governor, said he was not surprised with the result, but he was concerned with the bill’s depletion of the state’s reserve funds.

“This is a huge problem,” Wodele said. “We are going to enter the next budget cycle completely broke. They’re going to wake up in the morning and realize what they did.”

Rep. Philip Krinkie, R-Shoreview, told legislators he thought the override needed to be passed because of the Legislature’s responsibility to balance the budget.

“Let’s get down to the business of doing the people’s work,” Krinkie said. “The people’s work is to balance this budget without putting it on the back of the taxpayers.”