Dayton Signs Legislative Budget Bill

Dayton Signs Legislative Budget Bill Photo: KSTP, File

February 26, 2018 11:05 PM

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the legislative budget bill into law Monday, officially ending the months-long legal battle between branches of government. 

RELATED: House and Senate Swiftly Approve Vetoed Funds

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On Feb. 22, Minnesota's Legislature moved quickly to restore its $130 million operating budget, putting the issue to rest by vote. The House and the Senate agreed just two days into the legislative session, and Dayton followed up by signing it Monday. 

"I am glad to put this matter behind us, so that we may turn our attention to the issues important to Minnesotans that require us to work together," Dayton said.

The bill provides budget funding for the Minnesota Senate and House, and reimburses funding to the Legislative Coordinating Commission. 

The episode began in May, when Dayton signed the bulk of a $46 billion, two-year budget but used his line-item veto pen on the Legislature's $130 million budget, hoping to bring Republican legislative leaders back to the negotiating table to rework several costly tax breaks and other measures.

But Republicans called it a blatant constitutional violation and sued Dayton, bringing the case all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The state's highest court upheld Dayton's veto late last year, forcing the Legislature to hobble into session running on emergency funds and further inflaming tension between the two sides.

RELATED: Supreme Court Rules in Dayton's Favor in Veto of Legislature's Budget

Despite the quick restoration, some Republicans squeezed in some parting shots Thursday at the governor.

Rep. Sarah Anderson called the situation "an embarrassment to the state of Minnesota, to see a governor who thinks he can just eliminate a branch of government."

Many Democrats in both the House and Senate voted against the bill to restore the funding for themselves and their staff, arguing the Legislature should have also ratified a new contract with modest raises for the state's 33,000 public employees.

The budget approved Thursday does not include any additional funding to cover the Legislature's legal tab in its case against Dayton, though it's still unclear how much that may be. And though lawmakers will continue collecting a $14,000 annual raise — the Legislature's new, $45,000 salary set by a voter-created panel took effect in July — the budget approved Thursday did not increase to account for that higher pay.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said that exclusion would force the Senate to cover the bigger paychecks by dipping into its budget reserve, to the tune of $2.2 million over the two-year budget cycle.

RELATED: Republican Legislative Leaders File Lawsuit Over Dayton's Line-Item Veto
 

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