If you want a preview of what the final weeks of the Minnesota legislative session might be like, just watch a tense conversation that happened late Tuesday night between DFL and Republican representatives. The Republican controlled House Ways and Means Committee had just turned away all DFL suggested ideas for what the state’s budget should be. Chair Jim Knoblach (R-St. Cloud) and other Republicans said that the state needed to be practical and pragmatic in its budget.
Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal) challenged that assertion, saying the Republicans are not being pragmatic at all by turning down even the smallest suggestions from Democrats. He reminded them that the budget needs to also be approved by the DFL controlled Senate and signed off by Governor Mark Dayton, also a DFLer.
Earlier in the day, Knobloch and other Republican House leaders unveiled their vision of the state’s budget which called for borrowing $2 billion in bonding to fix the state’s roads and bridges instead of imposing a new gas tax as Dayton has proposed. The plan would also divert existing tax revenue to pay for transportation, meaning other areas of the budget would need to be cut. Dayton and DFL leaders have proposed using a projected budget surplus to invest in schools.
Carlson reminded Knoblach that the end game in negotiating the budget involves coming up with a House budget position that can be defended in a conference committee where a final deal would be struck. Carlson said what was being proposed was not defendable.
Knobloch admitted that he didn’t expect the Republican budget to be enacted into law as written, but it was a starting point.
Carlson said the Republican starting point was very far away from what could ultimately pass and become law.
Videos of Republican budget proposal, DFL response and the tense late night discussion
Video at top: Reps Carlson and Knoblach’s discussion in the Ways and Means Committee
Video below: The entire committee hearing
Video at bottom: Videos of the Republican and DFL news conferences about the budget targets
Entire Ways and Means Committee hearing
Republican budget proposal