It’s become a perennial drama. Divided government, at either the state or federal level, reaches an impasse in legislative negotiations which triggers a shutdown of government operations. Nobody claims to want it. Yet everyone seems to shape their strategy around it, with each party hoping the other will take the brunt of the blame from frustrated constituents.
Minnesota’s regular legislative session will end tonight at midnight. The chances of Democrat governor Mark Dayton reaching agreement with House Republicans stands next to nil. From all accounts, Dayton wants it that way. As the session deadline has loomed closer, the billionaire department store heir has moved the goal posts on education funding again and again. Most recently, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Dayton will veto an education bill “if it only includes $400 million in new money for schools.”
Dayton’s banking on a hunch that Republicans will take the blame for a contentious special session and potential government shutdown. He’s “vowing that House Republicans would pay the biggest political cost” in that scenario. That’s what passes for leadership in Minnesota at the moment, triggering shutdowns on the belief political opponents will be blamed.
Why is this even a thing? You might think, with the amount of frustration that these standoffs cause for all parties concerned, there would be some proposal to reform how the budget process works so that negotiations never take place under the specter of a shutdown. If or how that would work legally, I leave to the experts. But such a proposal would quickly sort the disingenuous partisan operatives from the statesmen.