What happened at the Minnesota Capitol last night?

The legislative session came to an end – here's how things stand.
Publish date:
Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.

Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.

As of the first second of Monday the 2018 Minnesota Legislative Session was officially over – and as has become the norm in recent years, negotiations went right down to the wire.

Here are the main headlines from what is being described as a shambolic end to the session:

Legislature votes through tax conformity bill

Minnesota lawmakers needed to agree on a tax conformity bill to bring the state in line with federal tax changes, otherwise some 860,000 residents face a tax hike averaging just under $500 when they do their returns next year.

Governor Mark Dayton had vetoed an earlier bill because he wanted some corporate tax cuts removed in order to use $139 million to cover the shortfall faced by dozens of school districts in 2018-19.

The tax bill passed late on Sunday, which included $225 million of spending for schools taken from other sources. The bill would also see state tax cuts for most households, as well as for businesses.

Today's Top Stories

– Money pouring in for Mankato vet willing to trade hearing aids for a car.

– Human remains possibly found in Otter Tail County.

– Sign up for our daily newsletters.

1,000-page supplemental spending bill also passes

A 1,000-page long, $131 million supplemental spending bill that covers a huge range of policies, including money to combat opioid addiction and sexual misconduct, as well as funding for school safety measures, passed the House and the Senate.

Republican leaders said the bill removed or amended 60 percent of the policies Dayton objected to in a previous version, but some Democrats were unhappy that the final 989-page bill was presented less than 48 hours before the end of the session.

BUT ... Gov. Dayton threatens to veto both

Calling the legislative session a "debacle" and "badly-mismanaged," Dayton accused Republicans of favoring big business and corporate special interests in a Sunday night news conference.

Dayton has 14 days to sign into law the bills passed on Sunday, but indicated that he could veto the tax and supplemental spending bills.

While very keen to improve school safety measures in the wake of recent mass shootings, Dayton said the supplemental spending bill still contains far too many objectionable spending proposals for him to pass.

He said he had implored GOPers to keep the school safety bill separate from the 1,000-page omnibus spending bill for this very reason.

"They send me umpteen standalone bills about the most trivial subjects, and here we've got something that's vitally important, and they're putting in the omnibus budget bill because they know I'm not going to sign that, so they can go around saying 'Oh, Dayton vetoes school safety.'"

As for the tax conformity bill, he called the additional $225 million in school money added by Republicans "fake" education funding, as much of it is taken from existing sources that pay for teacher training and community education, rather than from the removal of corporate tax cuts as he requested.

Dayton also says the GOP tax bill gives those earning $250,000 a tax cut that's proportionally 13 times that of someone earning $20,000.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, however, argued Republicans have delivered "one of the most productive two year stretches in recent history," saying he's "confident" that Dayton will sign the bills "because it's simply the right thing to do."

"We successfully addressed countless concerns and objections raised by the governor, and know that this represents a good-faith effort to send him bills that can earn his signature," said Majority House Leader Joyce Peppin.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka meanwhile said that the ramifications of Dayton not passing these bills would be too large for Minnesota.

What else was passed on Sunday?

After the Democrats in the Senate voted down a $825 million infrastructure bill earlier this week, a reworked public works bonding bill was approved.

The infrastructure bill passed on Sunday was valued at $1.57 billion, but $400 million of that is transportation spending that's delayed until at least 2022.

Meanwhile, there was a failed attempt by Republican lawmakers to override a previous veto by Dayton that stops $9 million earmarked for private DMV deputy registrars who stand to lose money because of the problems with the MNLARS vehicle licensing and tabs computer system.

Dayton supports the funding, but vetoed it because he wanted the bill to include money to fix MNLARS. That money, however, was instead included in the supplemental spending bill that he wants to veto.

Rep. Daudt accused Dayton of "twisting arms" to encourage Democrats to vote against overriding his veto, something Dayton denied.

Next Up