Eventually Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leadership in the state House and Senate will reach a compromise, Oakdale’s legislators said.
The question is when.
“It is going to take significant time and pressure to get (the Republicans) to move to the middle,” said Rep. Nora Slawik (DFL-Maplewood).
The Legislature adjourned last week with no budget deal. If budget bills aren’t passed by July 1, all state government workers whose roles are deemed non-essential could be told to stay home.
Slawik said a few “lights on” bills, which would put temporary measures in place to keep government operations running while a deal is negotiated, have been introduced, but they haven’t been discussed in the House Ways and Means Committee, which she sits on.
The problem with such a bill, she said, is that it takes off some of the pressure to reach a deal.
“We may go to a full shutdown so that we have the conversation,” she said. “But you know who has the votes—they do—so they may pass that anyway.”
Sen. Chuck Wiger agreed that it seems like a government shutdown is imminent.
Minnesota had a partial government shutdown in 2005 that lasted for eight days.
Slawik said she’s hearing this shutdown could last until September—when it could affect schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and University System’s ability to open as usual.
Other than not reaching a budget deal, Wiger said he was most disappointed about how public employees were treated this session, through attacks on collective bargaining rights and proposals that would result in laying off state workers.
“I didn’t like the target that seemed to be put on public employees that just caused a great deal of anxiety for thousands of state workers,” said Wiger, DFL-Maplewood. “When we say we’ve got to make these cuts so that we can create jobs, it’s so ironic.”
Here are a few other end-of-session notes from Oakdale’s legislators:
Fate of bills they authored or co-authored: Slawik said none of the bills she authored made it into law, and few got hearings. Wiger’s bill requiring carbon monoxide education dubbed after a Woodbury teen who died from exposure to the poisonous gas was signed into law.
Bills introduced this session will still be live next year, and therefore, still have the potential to be heard or signed into law.
What they’ll be working on in the interim: Wiger said he’ll be advocating for legislation that would create an independent authority to oversee Permanent School Fund assets and proceeds, and legislation that directs all of those proceeds toward schools. Slawik said she’ll be involved with the state’s application to get federal money through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.