New players, same train wreck over state budget compromise

This time, it was going to be different. New governor. Lots of new legislators. A clean slate.

Just a few weeks ago, lobbyists and Capitol watchers were telling this editorial board they were optimistic this year Minnesota could maybe — just maybe — avoid the traditional train wreck at the end of the legislative session tunnel.

And then, late Tuesday night, it went off the rails over budget proposals that are about $2 billion apart.

The self-imposed budget deadline missed, conference committees are forced to work on bills for which they have no funding clarity as the clock on this legislative session ticks down to adjournment May 20.

The governor is said to be willing to cut $200 million in spending from his original budget proposals. That’s a good start. However, he’s not talking much about reducing his proposed (and eye-popping) 20-cents-a-gallon gas tax hike.

The House Democrats said they’re willing to put $664 million in proposed spending back on the shelf if the Senate meets them halfway.

The GOP-controlled Senate has made no such public declarations about what they’re willing change. They’re just willing to shift some money around, they said, but they’re not prepared to budge on their number. Nor will they specify what might be cut with their funding shifts.

So let the impasse begin.

Or don’t. How about that?

Walz, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Melissa Hortman are, in an only-in-Minnesota-moment, scheduled to spend Saturday’s fishing opener together in Albert Lea.

We humbly suggest they board the same boat and use that time wisely, talking through the roadblocks and setting up the legislative session for success next week.

Legislators must go back to work resolved to make good policy, not just good politics. Get serious about making compromises.

And don’t forget the voice of people. In the last election, Minnesotans decided by fairly large margins to keep a DFLer in the governor’s chair and give DFLers more House seats. Republicans held the Senate — barely.

On that note: “No” is not a civilized negotiating stance, at least it’s not a good one. At worst, it’s appears obstructionist. At best (we use the term loosely), it looks as if people who don’t know how negotiations work put the budget proposal together — with no room for give and take. Senate Republicans, please note.

Governing is compromise. Winning at all costs isn’t leadership — it’s tribalism. It’s pandering to the lowest common denominator, the segment of the electorate that can only see their team as a “winner” or a “loser” rather than as a force for good governance.

We are disappointed. Again.

— St. Cloud Times


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