During his first news conference of the legislative session, a hobbled Gov. Mark Dayton put Senate DFLers on blast, saying their delay in passing tax cuts already approved by the House has him feeling "very, very, very disappointed."
"I hope Minnesotans will communicate with their legislators -- and these are DFL legislators, I'm sorry to say -- that this is inexcusable, and it's unacceptable," Dayton said yesterday. "It's got to stop. We had a meeting this afternoon for that purpose, it was not productive, so we're going to continue."
If a tax bill isn't approved before the week is through, the Department of Revenue might not be able to apply whatever tax cuts the bill includes for the more than one million Minnesotans expected to file their returns after April 1, creating a logistical nightmare.
"This deadline is essential in order for the Department of Revenue to work with its software vendors so people can actually file on the revised returns," Dayton said. "If they don't, if Revenue can't meet that deadline and people file based on the old law and don't take advantage of these significant tax cuts that we're proposing, then they have to refile an amended return."
"It's going to create a lot of confusion, it's going to create a lot of difficultly for the Department of Revenue to handle all this smoothly," he continued.
The details are technical, but Dayton's analysis of the impasse is not -- it's on Senate Dems for being reluctant to approve a tax bill that doesn't include $90 million in funding for a new, controversial Senate office building.
"The impasse is not around the tax bill," Dayton said. "It's about this legislative office building and the Senate's insistence that they have the building, and their unwillingness to let a reasonable tax bill proceed on a timely basis until they get the building, and the House's unwillingness at this point to agree to that."
In a news conference of his own held after the governor's, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, D-Cook, vowed the Senate will take up the tax bill tomorrow, shiny new office building or no. He denied that the dispute over the Senate's accommodations has caused a delay.
But Bakk also threw House DFLers under the bus for not caring about the needs of the Senate and suggested Dayton and House DFLers are being hypocritical since they're both quietly expanding their "footprint" while making a political issue out of the Senate's effort to do the same.
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"We have all along urged the House Rules Committee to act [on the new building]," Bakk said. "You can see by looking at the scaffolding, our Capitol is under major renovation, and the Senate is about to be impacted in a significant way."
"We don't understand why the House Rules Committee hasn't acted, except to say that they're not impacted by what's going to happen at the Capitol, none of their offices are impacted, their chamber's not going to be impacted," he continued.
"What we know is that after the 2015 session the Senate is going to have to vacate this building and it's going to be turned over to the contractors," Bakk added. "We will not have a chamber for the 2016 session, and we understand that's not the House's problem. But it is a serious problem for how the Senate is going to function."
Here, via The UpTake, are videos of both Dayton's press conference and Bakk's press conference.