Special session averts shutdown

Daily Editorial Board

As a partial government shutdown scheduled for July 1 loomed, threatening almost 9,500 state workers’ jobs, the state Legislature met in a special session Friday and Saturday to finalize the state’s $42 billion two-year budget. Gov. Mark Dayton signed several bills into law Saturday morning, preventing the shutdown. 
 
Partisan politics surrounded much of this session’s budgeting debates. Most notably, Dayton sought to introduce a universal preschool program for Minnesota’s children, but Republican legislators rejected this. 
 
The final budget, therefore, represents a compromise between Republican and Democratic interests. Although Dayton’s universal preschool program was rejected, the Legislature agreed to increase education spending from $400 million to $525 million.
 
The provisions of an agriculture and environmental bill demonstrate a similar degree of compromise. Minnesotan farmers will now be required to build natural buffer zones between their crops and waterways in order to reduce runoff pollution. At the same time, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizens’ Board is abolished under the new law. 
 
The Editorial Board has previously written in favor of natural buffer zones, and we are glad to see that the final bill includes provisions for them. However, we feel that the environmental bill’s other provisions threaten the environment and promote corporate interests at the expense of the public. 
 
Nevertheless, we understand that a true compromise leaves everybody disappointed in some way, and we commend lawmakers from both parties for agreeing to concessions in order to pass the budget and prevent a shutdown.