About last night: How the governor, lawmakers feel about the hectic deadline


Lawmakers once again were scrambling, as the final hours to pass bills came and went Sunday night.

Gov. Mark Dayton spoke Monday about that rushed end to the 2016 legislative session.

Long story short, lawmakers had four large bills they hoped to get done – they got halfway there.

Here's what Dayton (and lawmakers) had to say about what happened. (For full audio of his news conference, click here.)

On the (once again) chaotic end to things

"They knew they had a deadline at midnight last night. They didn't meet that deadline, and in the haste of the final moments there, democracy was not well served. The public was cut out of discussion, and most of the legislators were cut out of discussion. I'm told a number of them didn't even have a chance to read the bills before they were asked to vote on them."

Will Dayton call a special session?

"Whether or not there will be a special session, I can't say today. I've given it 14 hours and 4 minutes of thought, and I haven't come to any conclusions one way or the other."

A special session so lawmakers can come back and address some of these things they didn't get done could be called – that's up to Dayton.

The governor though was noncommittal, saying he wants to meet with legislative leaders in the coming days to see where they're at. But if there is one, it won't be in the next 48 hours.

On the tax bill

"The tax bill has some very good features for student loans, for childcare tax credit, for working family credit. It has a terrible feature with reducing taxes on tobacco companies. I can't comprehend why that was considered to be good public policy."

The tax bill that was passed would cut taxes by almost $260 million over the next year.

Part of the package though includes $35 million in tax breaks for tobacco manufacturers, which Dayton called "very distressing." He hasn't decided if he'll sign the bill into law.

Senate Republicans billed it as a stop to rising taxes enacted by Democrats, at a time when healthcare costs are going up and public works aren't improving. Democrats and Republicans alike though are touting the tax breaks.

On extra spending for broadband, pre-k

"It didn't have everything that I wanted, but it has some of those measures including such as pre-kindergarten that i said form the outset were very very important."

This is the other one lawmakers managed to pass, after meeting all weekend to come up with compromises on what turned out to be a $182 million bill.

It covers education, rural broadband, state government, jobs and economic development, judiciary and public safety, environment and natural resources, and agriculture.

Most members of the House hadn’t read all 599 pages of the bill before it passed with a vote of 95-39 late Sunday, Session Daily reports. It passed in the Senate 50-16.

On the bonding bill

"The bonding bill is projects all over the state of Minnesota that are vitally needed, that put people to work building them. And to put that off for another year just delays our future economic growth ... I think it'd definitely be in Minnesota's better interests to have a good bonding bill approved in the near future."

A bonding bill was not passed last night, and the governor said not having a public works bill like this would be a "serious setback" to the state's economy. It could be addressed in a special session, and he'll consider the impact when making a decision.

He did though acknowledge lawmakers couldn't agree Sunday night, so they're starting at a point of disagreement – and he's not sure how flexible legislators will be.

Funding for the Southwest Light Rail extension was also in that bill – Dayton said it's an important project for the Twin Cities metro, and called it disappointing that people were playing "political games" with it.

The Senate GOP put the blame squarely on Democrats, who they argue killed the bill by adding the sudden amendment to help pay for the light rail line. The House DFL put out an email release saying the bill language was riddled with mistakes anyway and would've been in jeopardy.

On not paying for road and bridge fixes

"Would I reject something acknowledging that failure, to do something rather than nothing over the next year? I'm not going to rule that out. But I'm very very disappointed that both the lack of long-term funding solution for transportation, and the failure to provide for metropolitan transit."

Dayton more than once called the lack of a long-term plan to pay for road and bridge fixes a failure. When asked if he'd accept a one-year stop-gap measure, he gave the answer above – and also mentioned the Southwest Light Rail extension not getting funded.

For the past two years, Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on how to pay for the fixes.

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