Legislative Leaders, Gov. Dayton Point Fingers for Mediation 'Impasse'

September 22, 2017 06:10 PM

A court-appointed mediator said Friday that legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton are at an "impasse" and need to report back to the Supreme Court.

According to Rick Solum, a retired Minnesota judge who served as a mediator, "the parties expended significant efforts and exchanged proposals" over the course of two days. However, Solum concluded in a statement, "mediation was at impasse, the understandable view of the parties being irreconcilable." 


RELATED: State Supreme Court Rules Dayton's Veto of Legislative Funding Constitutional; Orders Mediation

Both sides issued fiery statements at press conferences, pointing fingers at each other. And no one said they were ready to drop the legal fight.

Dayton said he didn't think he "stormed out" of the meetings, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt said the governor is the one who shutdown the mediation. 

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Dayton accused GOP lawmakers of "high drama," and he said he is not surprised they will not compromise on the deal to break the budget impasse.

Dayton said legislative leaders now claim they have funds to operate until February, but previously they had said they would run out of the fund.

Dayton called this a "lie."

"I was angry," he said. "In my 40 years, I've never been lied to. ... I don't use that word lightly."

He later added it "infuriates me," and said several times it "deeply offends me." 

Dayton added this is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. 

RELATED: Dayton, Lawmakers Legal Battle will be Expensive

Daudt held a press conference minutes after Dayton's, and he said at the beginning, he wished he was in mediation instead of having to speak. 

Daudt said the governor "walked out" on us, and he added that it's not the first time Dayton has done so. 

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka also expressed "disappointment." He said the governor "can't defund the House and Senate" or the judicial branch.  

Daudt pulled out his phone during the press conference and read a text message he claims was sent on May 24 from a Dayton staffer to his saying which bills the governor was ready to approve and sign. He said one of those bills listed was the tax bill, so the governor may have changed his mind.

"The governor personally agreed to every provision of the tax bill," Daudt said. "...If there's one thing that needs to be good around the Capitol, it's their word. ... Now he changes his mind? I'm sorry, but you don't get to do that." 

Solum's full statement: 

The leaders of the Minnesota Legislature and the Governor of Minnesota, along with their staffs and counsel, participated in a mediation on September 21st and 22nd.  After the parties expended significant efforts and exchanged proposals through a full day of mediation on the 21st and a half day on the 22nd, I concluded that the mediation was at impasse, the understandable views of the parties being irreconcilable. The parties, through their counsel, will be reporting to the Supreme Court in compliance with the Court’s order.  

Gov. Dayton's full statement:

I thank our Mediator, former Judge Rick Solum, for his concerted efforts over the past two days to help the Legislature and our Administration negotiate a settlement of the issues that have divided us. For the past four months, I have advocated for just such a negotiated agreement. 

“I have said repeatedly that my reason for exercising my Constitutional line-item veto of some of the Legislature's biennial appropriation was to require them to revise their 2017 tax bill, which I believe will seriously jeopardize Minnesota government's future financial stability. Republican legislative leaders have said repeatedly that the reason for their lawsuit was to provide them with sufficient funds to operate in this biennium.

“I was not surprised by the intransigence of Republican legislative leaders during this attempted mediation. But the reason for their intransigence was a surprise. They have now revealed that they already have more than enough money to operate both the House and the Senate at their projected levels of spending, until they reconvene in Session next February.

“Their cash surplus contradicts the high drama they have been manufacturing during the past four months. Just today one of their members asserted, ‘...the governor used his line-item veto power to eliminate funding for the Legislature, effectively abolishing the legislative branch.’

“Their current cash position also contradicts the assertions made in their filing with the Minnesota Supreme Court this past week. It stated, ‘Assuming the House and Senate spend as anticipated through October 1, 2017, and only begin using their carryforward funds thereafter, the anticipated date carryforward funds will be exhausted is as follows:  House: After payment of payroll on February 1, 2018.  Senate: After payment of payroll on December 1, 2017.’

“However, this statement fails to disclose what the Republican legislative leaders have known – or should have known – for some time. In addition to their carry-forward funds, they have stated they will use the Legislative Coordinating Commission's biennial carry-forward monies of over $3.6 million and appropriation of over $35 million to completely fund their expected operating expenses until they return to Session next year. They admit their Legislative Counsel has advised them that they can do so.

“Republican leaders have claimed repeatedly that they had to file their lawsuit and cost taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees, to prevent the Legislature from being ‘abolished’ by my vetoes depriving them of operating funds. Now, after the Court forced their financial disclosure, we learn their claim is untrue.

“They owe the Minnesota Supreme Court and the people of Minnesota an honest explanation of why they have dragged all of us into their costly theatrics over the past four months.”


Theresa Malloy and Tom Hauser

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