Governor Mark Dayton agrees with fellow DFLers that some of the provisions in an environmental bill were “terrible” but says it is not a step backward for the environment.
“It’s certainly not going to set environmental progress back in Minnesota, because I won’t let it,” Dayton said.
The bill eliminates citizen oversight of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Dayton says he hopes to reverse that action in 2017 if his party can win control of the Minnesota House.
During Friday’s special session, Democrats in the Senate nearly scuttled a deal Dayton had made with legislative leaders of both parties when they voted down the environmental bill and then stripped the objectionable language from it. The Republican-controlled House added the language back into the bill and the Senate eventually passed it with mostly Republican votes.
Dayton earlier had said he would campaign against DFL Senators who opposed the environmental bill, but Saturday said he wouldn’t do that. He said he regretted his choice of words.
On Saturday ,Dayton signed all six of the bills passed during the special session, avoiding a partial government shutdown on July 1.
“Early this morning, Minnesota legislators concluded their 2015 session. I thank them for passing the remaining budget bills, as well as Legacy and bonding bills, all of which I have signed into law.
“Last fall, Minnesota voters chose divided political leadership for our state. This legislative session ended in that same way: with legislators sharply divided over key issues, like the optimal amounts of taxes and expenditures, social services, and transportation improvements.
“Nevertheless, legislators achieved significant progress in providing better care and education for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens: children, who were previously considered too young for structured elementary education. Minnesotans at the other end of life will also benefit from increased funding for nursing homes, personal care attendants, and other supportive services.
“As I have noted before, a sign of true compromise is that no one is happy with it. Many compromises had to be made during this legislative session; and many people, across the political spectrum, believe it suffered from too many missed opportunities.
“One positive result, however, is that the remaining surplus, combined with the budgeted reserve and cash flow account, has left the State with a positive balance of almost $2.5 billion. It stands in welcome contrast to the financial uncertainties of recent years.
“Legislators from both political parties have devoted countless hours to leading our state toward a better future. They, and their supportive families, have earned our gratitude.”
At top: audio of Dayton’s entire news conference