Daily Digest: Dayton pulls the trigger

Good morning, and welcome to Thursday. He said he was going to do it, and he did. Here’s the Digest.

1. Dayton vetoed the tax and budget bills. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday vetoed the tax and budget bills that included the main work of the Republican-led Legislature and vowed he would not call a special session to work things out, saying, “They had their chance.” While the bills contained proposals supported by Democrats and Republicans, Dayton days earlier had telegraphed the problems he had with the legislation. Just a few hours before the midnight Sunday deadline for bills to pass, Dayton dashed Republican hopes that there was enough to like in tax and budget bills. He renewed those criticisms Wednesday after the vetoes.  He described the budget bill as “not meant to be something I could sign. It was meant to be something they (Republicans) could take around the state.” The tax legislation, he added was “skewed to big corporations and wealthy people, and it was unacceptable.” The budget bill would have used money from the state surplus to help boost school security, take steps to attack the opioid epidemic, begin addressing problems with the elder care system and more. (MPR News)

2. Republican reaction was swift and harsh. “I actually think there’s no bill the governor would sign,” Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said, referring to Dayton’s broad opposition to Republicans’ tax and spending proposals. “This session wasn’t a failure. Our governor was a failure.” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, took a more reserved approach, but he expressed similar frustration.  “The veto of these bills is bad for Minnesota,” Gazelka said, later adding: “I think we all need to learn to work better together.” (Pioneer Press)

3.  Teacher removed from board after online comment about President Trump. A 2015 Teacher of the Year from St. Paul schools lost her spot on a new teacher licensing board because she insulted President Donald Trump, using a raw expletive, in a social media post. “He is not worthy, nor are his puppet masters, of human dignity,” reads the Jan. 12 Facebook post of Amy Hewett-Olatunde. “He is the s***hole and we should line up to take a dump on him.” The comment was attached to a news article about remarks attributed to Trump earlier this year in which he questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “s***hole countries” in Africa.  State Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, read the post on the Senate floor this past weekend as Hewett-Olatunde’s nomination for a spot on the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board was considered. “That’s the kind of stuff that really bothered me,” Utke said, supporting a request by colleague Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, not to confirm Hewett-Olatunde.  At first, Hewett-Olatunde was confirmed to the board with a narrow 34-33 vote, with nearly all GOP senators in opposition. State Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, who chairs the Senate education finance committee, was the lone Republican to support Hewett-Olatunde’s nomination. It wouldn’t last. Nelson later told her colleagues that her vote was a mistake because she was distracted. Nelson asked the Senate to reconsider the confirmation, something senators on the winning side of a vote can do. Hewett-Olatunde’s nomination was then defeated 33-34. (Pioneer Press)

4. Gillibrand stands by call for Franken to resign. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was the first of Al Franken’s Democratic colleagues to call for his resignation late last year amid mounting accusations of improper behavior toward women, defended her decision to do so at a forum Tuesday night on women in politics. Gillibrand said publicly asking Franken to resign “was a very hard and difficult thing because yes, he is our friend, we admire him, we thought he did a great job as senator, particularly on the Judiciary Committee. But with eight credible allegations of groping and harassment, staying silent was not an option for me anymore, and each time I stayed silent and said nothing, each time I did not stand up and say it’s not OK — just enough was enough.” Gillibrand’s call in early December for Franken’s resignation was quickly echoed by more than a dozen of her Democratic colleagues; Franken announced his decision to step down a day later. That sequence of events has continued to reverberate in Minnesota and national Democratic politics; Gillibrand has faced criticism from some prominent Democratic donors. (Star Tribune)

5. Fox News contributor gets hit with water in Minneapolis. Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren says she is disheartened and embarrassed but not broken after a patron threw water on her at a Minneapolis restaurant. The Fox News contributor told the channel’s “Fox & Friends” Wednesday that she was eating Sunday brunch with her parents when a group of people “thought it would be funny to throw water at” her and chant profanities. Lahren says people don’t have to like or agree with her, but that they “don’t have the right to throw things” at her. She insists she is “tough” and “can handle it.” President Trump tweeted in support of Lahren, calling her “a truly outstanding and respected young woman!” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Wednesday that no one has reported the incident. (AP)

Barring big news, the Digest will take tomorrow and Monday off. 

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