When it comes to pointing fingers and passing blame for the budget stalemate in St. Paul, Gov. Mark Dayton has done well. In fact, it has become for him almost an art form. But the truth of the matter is that if anyone is digging in his heels and not budging in the budget negotiations, it is the governor himself.
Consider: On Thursday, GOP legislative leaders presented the governor with yet another proposal. In an effort to solve the budget crisis and avert a government shutdown, the Republicans offered to drop their call for $200 million in tax cuts if the governor would abandon his call for $1.8 billion in tax increases. What’s more, they said that if the governor agreed, the money raised from eliminating those tax cuts would be spent on Mr. Dayton’s priorities — education, the environment, transportation, Local Government Aid, and flood and disaster relief.”
The governor’s reaction? No deal.
In fact, the governor went so far as to call it a “non-proposal” and compared the Republican’s actions to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Well, if the GOP leaders are rearranging the chairs, then surely Gov. Dayton must be the iceberg itself — frozen to a proposal and not willing to change.
For all of his posturing about the Republicans being unwilling to compromise, the governor misses the point that his loyal opposition has compromised — several times, in fact. The governor started with a $38 billion budget proposal while the Republicans countered by saying they wanted to keep spending at the current level of $30 billion. In the time since those initial salvos, the GOP-controlled Legislature has presented the governor with a $34 billion budget.
Do the math. Which of the two has gone halfway to solve the budget crisis?
We doubt that the governor — who has taken a “my way or the highway” approach — will change his tune. And if he doesn’t, he will only have himself to blame.