Budget battle spills into special session

Republicans and Gov. Mark Dayton were unable to agree on the budget.

Kyle Potter

State legislators and the governor were unable to agree on a budget before the Legislature adjourned Monday night.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed Tuesday all of the budget proposals Republicans laid on his desk, which ensures an upcoming special session to close the stateâÄôs $5 billion deficit.

The governor has asked for more compromise between Republicans, who have sought large cuts to funding, and Democrats, who support a combination of cuts and new taxes to the wealthiest Minnesotans, as DaytonâÄôs plan suggests.

ItâÄôs unclear when the special session will begin. Dayton has said he wonâÄôt call legislators back to work until he and Republican leaders have compromised and set an agenda for the session.

The last weeks at the Capitol were marked by a two-party blame game for the budget stalemate, grueling overnight debates and, finally, a trickle of budget bills sent to DaytonâÄôs desk only to be vetoed.

David Schultz, professor of public policy at Hamline University, said he saw the overtime coming from the beginning of session in January.
âÄúI thought it was a foregone conclusion we would go to a special session,âÄù Schultz said. âÄúThe real issue is âĦ whether or not we would have a partial shutdown of the government.âÄù

If the two sides donâÄôt compromise before July 1, the shutdown will begin.

Gay marriage ban on the 2012 ballot

Minnesotans will vote on whether to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman in the 2012 election.

After more than six hours of emotional debate, the House passed the constitutional amendment that circumvents Dayton and goes straight to the ballot. The Senate passed the bill May 11.

Republicans have been pushing the amendment for years, but saw no progress until this session when Republicans won control of both legislative bodies.

State law already prohibits gay marriage, but a ban in MinnesotaâÄôs constitution would be much harder to reverse.

Redistricting

Dayton followed through on his promise to veto any redistricting plans without bipartisan support. No Democrats in either the House or Senate voted in favor of the plans.

The proposed maps designed by Republican-led redistricting committees would pit more incumbent Democrats against one another than Republicans in the next election.

Democrats, including Dayton, have called the proposals partisan. Republicans say the plans reflect population growth and decline.

State officials redraw the lines of the MinnesotaâÄôs congressional and legislative districts every 10 years to reflect population shifts from the latest census data.

If Dayton and state legislators canâÄôt agree on a new map, the courts will take over the process. Judges have re-drawn MinnesotaâÄôs district borders every decade since the 1970s.

Voter ID bill passed, awaits signature

The Legislature passed a bill that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls and would eliminate vouching, but DaytonâÄôs reception to it has been lukewarm.

Though he didnâÄôt specifically target the proposal, Dayton promised to veto any election bills without bipartisan support.

Only two Democrats, both in the House, joined every Republican in voting for the proposal.

The billâÄôs chief author, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, also introduced a version in late April that would place the issue on the ballot as a constitutional amendment, but it didnâÄôt pass in time.

In January, Kansas will become the ninth state to require photo identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.