Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed two more budget bills that were passed by the Minnesota Legislature in the last hours of the session that ended five days ago. The latest vetoes mean there are even more issues for legislators and the governor to resolve in a special session. No session has been scheduled.
On Saturday, the DFL governor vetoed the omnibus agriculture, environment and natural resources bill. Environmentalists had called on the governor to do so because they objected to many provisions in the bill, especially the elimination of a citizens’ board that oversees some decisions at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. But the bill also included something Dayton wanted: a requirement that farmers maintain buffers between cropland and waterways.
Republican state Rep. Denny McNamara of Hastings said the veto affects avian flu funding, extended unemployment benefits, state parks and the Minnesota Zoo.
“He jeopardized all that and vetoed it over minor MPCA policies that we offered to work with him in special session,” McNamara said, adding getting agreement in a special session will be difficult.
Dayton also vetoed the omnibus jobs and energy bill to fund the Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Mediation Services and Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Court of Appeals. Dayton said the bill had “seriously inadequate” funding for broadband. He also criticized the amount budgeted for the state’s Olmstead Plan efforts to address the needs of people with disabilities who live in communities instead of institutions.
In his veto letter of the jobs and energy budget bill, Dayton also said he objected to the “changes to Minnesota’s net metering laws that will disincentivize the use of wind and solar power.”
Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt of Crown said he was “very disappointed” with all three vetoes, including a bill vetoed earlier this week funding early and K-12 education.
“With his vetoes, he is rejecting bipartisan efforts to put more than $17 billion toward students in every classroom, provide resources to help farmers devastated by avian flu, send relief to miners facing unemployment on the Iron Range,” Daudt’s statement said. Daudt added while the legislature, including the DFL-majority Senate, finished its work, “the governor wants more time. We will continue to work with him for Minnesotans.”
Dayton vetoed the education budget bill because it did not fund prekindergarten for all Minnesota 4-year-olds.
During his Saturday news conference, Dayton also offered to accept a temporary tax cut in exchange for more money for public preschool.
The offer is a one-year income tax cut totaling $260 million, provided the governor can have $250 million in additional money for public schools, $100 million of that new money would fund preschool.
The governor said his preschool option would be voluntary and available to districts that apply for the money.
“I think it’s a good stand with the surplus we have to enact a tax cut, one that’s not going to permanently cripple the state finances in the future,” Dayton said.
MPR News reporter Lorna Benson contributed reporting to this story