May 24, 2018

Dayton Vetos Bill

On Wednesday, May 23 2018, Gov. Mark Dayton followed through on his promise to veto the major work of this year’s legislative session, taking down a tax bill with money for public schools as well as the omnibus supplemental spending bill.

A news release from Dayton’s office said the two measures “put powerful special interests, multinational corporations, and the rich ahead of Minnesota schoolkids and families.”

The two measures together comprised a major portion of the work product of the 2018 legislative session, which ended late Sunday. Dayton had promised the vetoes in the hours leading up to the end of session, but Republicans had been urging the DFL governor to reconsider.

Republicans said their tax plan would protect almost all Minnesotans from tax increases that could otherwise result from a lack of alignment between the state tax code and its federal counterpart, after big changes to the latter following a major overhaul by Congress last year. Without changes to the state code, Minnesotans will have to slog through a complicated tax filing process next year.

Dayton has said the bill benefits multinational corporations, and accused lawmakers of favoring special interest groups over average Minnesotans.

“I am vetoing this bill because of its misguided priorities that give tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy over the education of our children,” Dayton said in his veto letter.

In the final weeks of the session Dayton focused on securing $138 million in emergency funding for school districts that are facing budget gaps. Lawmakers did not take the funding approach he wanted, instead allowing Minnesota schools to access $225 million in funding that came from various existing state accounts that support teacher training and community education.

However, the tax plan and the nearly 1,000-page spending and policy bill that Dayton also vetoed did include many measures Dayton supports. The budget bill dedicated millions of dollars to opioid addiction treatment and to fix the state’s problematic vehicle licensing and registration system. It also included some small changes to state regulation of elder care facilities, following stories of elder abuse, although critics called those measures toothless.

Governor Dayton specifically called out the elder abuse provisions by stating:

“Despite efforts over the past several months to strengthen existing elder abuse laws, this bill fails to meet the expectations of a large number of lawmakers and of the coalition of nearly every consumer advocacy organization in the state working to stop elder abuse. This legislation does not ensure that there will ever be licensure or protections for assisted living or dementia care. It provides no private rights of enforcement for elderly and vulnerable adults who suffer preventable harm or even death at a long-term care facility. It fails to provide even the basic public right of action protections for elderly people being evicted from their care setting and residence. In fact, advocacy groups believe changes made in this bill would actually make current law less protective. This failure is unacceptable.”

Still awaiting a final decision by Dayton is a public works infrastructure borrowing bill. That bill, which he has not threatened to veto, would be backed by $825 million in general obligation bonds and another $675 million would come from other accounts. It would fund repairs and construction of local roads, water systems and college and university buildings, and includes money for school safety measures. To the frustration of DFLers, it does not include money for transit.