Editorial: There's still time to regroup
To say this session of the Minnesota Legislature is off to a poor start would be an understatement.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed budget, which slashes local government aid, spending on health care programs and services, funds for state colleges and universities and more -- all while offering businesses tax cuts -- didn't get things off on a promising footing.
Then came the bonding bill debacle. DFL leaders long advocated a bill they wanted passed early, so that new construction projects could start on time while stimulating job growth in a speedy fashion. But the Democrats ignored Pawlenty's spending ceiling on the bill, passing a $1 billion package they surely knew the governor would never sign while omitting his key priorities, such as a state sex offender treatment facility. (It didn't help matters that Pawlenty seems to be spending as much, or more, time out of state nowadays, when he could have potentially been a bigger part of negotiations). Then, just as Pawlenty was poised to make his inevitable veto official, DFL lawmakers opted not to forward the bill to him, but instead held on to the bill for what was deemed a "cooling off period" to see if a compromise could be worked out.
Last we checked, we didn't elect legislative leaders to "cool off." They're supposed to be working together for the benefit of the state's citizens, not engaging in hijinks that prioritize political point-scoring. Look no further than the landslide, bipartisan passage of the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) bill last week, which was followed by Pawlenty's veto and the House's failure at an override -- despite only nine House members being opposed the first time around.
Fortunately, it's not too early for everyone in St. Paul to go back to the drawing board and re-assess what they should be doing. Let's just hope they do it soon.