The media is saying that Gov. Dayton’s latest offer sheet means that the shutdown is over. I’m not that certain. First, here’s Gov. Dayton’s offer:

Thus, in my continuing effort to reach agreement with you on a budget for this biennium and get Minnesota working again, I will reluctantly agree to, though I do not agree with, your signed offer sheet, dated 6/30/2011 (attached).

Gov. Dayton includes 3 conditions for his signing the GOP bill. Here they are:

First, I will rely on your public statements after the shutdown began that you have removed all of the policy issues contained on your list from our remaining negotiations and from legislative action this year…

Second, that you drop your arbitrary, 15% across-the-board reduction to the number of employees in all agencies, regardless of their funding source…

Third, that after all of the budget issues have been resolved in a special session, you support and pass a bonding bill of not less than $500,000,000 to put people back to work throughout Minnesota.

I don’t have a problem with the removal of the so-called social issues from the budget bill. There’s plenty of time to debate those issues. I’m ok with removing Keith Downey’s 15 by 15 reform with one condition: that Rep. King Banaian’s HF2 priority-based budget reform legislation, including his Sunset Commission provision, be part of the final package.

I’m ok with that because King’s bill does essentially what Rep. Downey’s bill does but does so with a department-by-department, agency-by-agency, one-piece-at-a-time approach. My bottom line is this: State government has been antiquated for a decade, if not longer. It needs to be dragged into the 21st Century, kicking and screaming if need be.

Whether we reduce the size of the workforce through Rep. Downey’s legislation, which I think is great reform legislation, or whether we do it with King’s legislation isn’t my primary worry. How we achieve fundamental structural government reform isn’t as important as that we achieve fundamental structural government reform.

If Gov. Dayton refuses to accept Rep. Downey’s legislation and Rep. Banaian’s legislation, then I’ve got serious reservations about Gov. Dayton’s proposal.

If Gov. Dayton says no to those serious reforms, then we should make the case to Minnesotans. As a messaging person, it’s exceptionally easy to argue that government should have to justify every penny of their budget every other biennium. It’s exceptionally easy saying that we should take an annual review of agencies, commissions and departments to see if they’re still needed.

I predict that, were those provisions polled by KSTP-SurveyUSA, aka SUSA, they’d get numbers similar to the polling on photo ID. That means these provisions would be supported by 70+ percent of Minnesotans, if not more.

As for the bonding bill, I’d be ok with it depending on what they want to spend money on. If it’s spending money on the Sheet Music Library, I’m opposed. If it’s building the ISILF Building on the SCSU campus, I’m fine with that. In and of itself, bonding isn’t bad policy. It’s what we get for our money that’s important.

Initially, I’m inclined to say that we should accept the proposal. It’s far from perfect but I’m ok with it if we get King’s budgeting and government reforms included in the final package.

I say that because King’s reforms have the ability to transform Minnesota’s budgeting process while cleaning out the cronyism and corruption from state government.

If Gov. Dayton isn’t willing to accept those reforms as part of the final package, then I’ve got problems with the package.

Hopefully, Gov. Dayton will accept those terms. If that happens, the GOP legislature will have accomplished alot this session, including some fundamental reforms that are badly overdue.

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19 Responses to “Is Our Long National Embarassment Really Over? Maybe”

  • J. Ewing says:

    The problem I have with it is that he wants another $700M of K-12 funding shifted, and another $700M borrowed from “tobacco money” which is a vanishing commodity. If he wanted the state to borrow to repay the K-12 shift, that would make sense, but what he wants to do here is spend another $1.5B that isn’t in the checkbook. That to me is the deal-breaker. The other is dropping “ALL policy issues.” WHY? The legislature was elected to set policy, and including them in the budget (especially when they have a budgetary component) makes perfect sense as well as good politics. You know that passing them by themselves would get an instant veto.

    My preference is for the GOP to note that Dayton still wants it ALL his way, and he is willing to put us all through h*!! to get it. It’s a messaging problem that way, but the other way it’s an obvious CAVE.

  • Wolverine says:

    I say tell him to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine if he’s going to continue to lie and say the majority of the people see things his way on the budget. I’d also tell him the sign the voter ID bill if he wants all the other policy issues taken off the board.
    I’m sure there will be other demands in the coming days if he holds true to form.

  • Gary Gross says:

    No thanks, Wolve. We’re getting alot. thinking that we’ll get everything is foolish, as is the idea that we want Dayton signing Photo ID legislation. I want that on the ballot in 2012. I’d love pushing DFL candidate after DFL candidate on whether they support election integrity. They can’t say they support Photo ID because it’s a matter of DFL religion.

    If they oppose Photo ID, they’re on the 20% side of an 80%-20% issue. I want that issue alive & well in the 2012 campaign.

    It’s easy to have a visceral reaction to this stuff. The thing is that conservatives should be better than that. We should be smart strategically. We should look for political advantages while passing legislation that makes life better for Minnesotans.

  • Chad Quigley says:


    Yeah, I’d say we are getting a lot, $3 billion in increased government! Oh, you have to add the $700 mil in borrowed money from future tobacco funds and the minimum $500 million in long term debt through a bond bill to add to the $34 bil. I’d say we got ripped off if this passes. He still gets $1.2-4 billion in increased spending and we are left holding the bag. We have enough government and the GOP will be giving him more if they agree to this. The GOP should have held firm at $31 billion and let Dayton shut it down from there. This isn’t a game like chess, this is real life and unless someone act says no, we’ve lost the game.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Chad, I won’t argue with you that the legislature should’ve held firm to the $31 Billion but that bell couldn’t get unrung once it’d been proposed. That said, I’m told that we’re likely getting some reforms that will change our budgeting system & the way government operates.

  • Joe Sayers says:

    The only reason Dayton has had this press conf is to try and wiggle out of his mess by seeming to agree with the republican terms and pretending to compromise- but expecting compromise from the other side as well. Very Minnesota nice of him.

    There is no intent to settle the impass, only to try and pin it on the other side. If the republicans accept, they give a slush fund to the dems, drop their social agenda without a later veto proof margin, and give up cutting the size of state government.

    The media will continue to support Dayton. The republicans need to get the message out through the blogs as to what is really happening here. AM radio and the internet will get this message out. Write the papers. It is smoke without the mirrors. Don’t bite or expect that this opportunity to pressure for changes will come again soon. Settling here could make Dayton look good.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Joe, Don’t make political analysis your job anytime soon because you aren’t good at it. Plesae understand that I’m not saying that this is a fantastic deal. That opportunity was lost when they started at $34 billion. That said, we weren’t going to get Gov. Dayton to sign Rep. Keith Downey’s 15 By 15 bill because he’d be dead politically. The unions would’ve been furious with him.

    Setting aside the cloning bill was the right thing to do because we would’ve gotten utterly clobberred had we stayed with that. Remember that politicians don’t have unlimited political capital. They’d better use it wisely.

    As I wrote elsewhere, the media & the unions didn’t save Gov. DAyton & the DFL this time. That’s because a) they weren’t on the right side of the issue & b) Republicans showed a spine all the way through.

  • walter hanson says:


    I think the point you just made about the media and union being unable to save the DFL is the big thing. If this was going to be the hardest and worst punch we can ever expect where was it? In 2012 the Republicans in Minnesota have nothing to fear as long as they stay on principal.

    And the unions should be scared. Not only are they losing dues paying members as all levels of government tighten their payrolls they’re telling their members that the Democrats are great. Really they know for a fact that Dayton could’ve made this deal on July first, but didn’t. Even if it results in a shift of lets say .5% of vote that can be big since that is enough to have let Emmer win in 2010 and Coleman to win in 2008.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Zippit says:

    Congratulations Gary for getting a favorable mention and link from Keep up the good work!

    And…down with Dayton! Down with Obama! Long live liberty and America’s exceptionalism!

  • Sinner says:

    The only problem with the 15 by 15 legislation is that it is too little too late

    The government shutdown has been GREAT for Minnesota – a better way to stop government I can’t imagine!

    Frankly if the government stays shut til 2012 – or til doomsday – that’s far better than have a functioning government lead by a Democrat!

  • Joe Sayers says:

    No offense taken Gary. I have a daytime job. It has nothing to do with politics.

    I understand the “game”. The problem is, it’s not a game and nothing is solved with this deal. It’s like cancer. If we do not eradicate the disease but only negotiate with it, it will eventually kill us.

    I’ve watched the cultural drift left for 35 years as an adult. We still spend more, accept more debt and avoid a real reversal of the drift. We just drift a little slower until conservatives fall out of favor.

  • Bob J. says:

    Good analysis, Gary.

    I will say this, though: I am sick and tired of reading the Minneapolis paper’s insistence that the school funding delay was a Republican idea when it was not. Amy Koch has said it was part of Dayton’s 6/30 proposal. The press will then use this falsehood to promote their tired old “Republicans don’t care about our kids” line.

    As for your points, unfortunately politics is the art of the compromise. This deal isn’t perfect but on balance, Dayton loses the highest profile card in his hand, at least for now.

    My only caution is to avoid the sort of talk and philosophy that is pervading the national budget discussion. In general, I do not favor the idea of ‘saving issues for the next election’ when it’s better for everyone to implement them now. We aren’t playing gotcha games any more. We are playing for keeps. So, Dayton losing his master card is less an issue to keep alive for 2012 as a necessary consequence of this debate that we needed to have for the good of Minnesota.

    Give me a representative who understands that getting the job done is more important than keeping the job at the next election. Then we’ll fix this state in a way that will last.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Welcome Powerline readers. Check out my columns at on the shutdown, the DFL’s tactics & the AFSCME Atwood Ambush.

  • J. Ewing says:

    It’s terrible to say, but this IS all a “game” to some people. Politics is a blood sport with casualties and calamities enough for the most decadent of Romans. That said, the GOP needs to treat it more like a game and less like the serious business that it is if they expect to win. I thus suggest: The GOP should “tentatively accept” Dayton’s offer and ask for the special session. First item of business is a “lights on bill” at the PREVIOUS year’s rate of about $31Billion. That ends the shutdown and Dayton’s leverage. If he vetoes THAT bill he owns the shutdown for sure. If he signs it, then the GOP can start compromising with the Governor on more spending (but not taxes, he gave that up). Who knows, they might end up with $34B.

  • R. Summari says:

    I noticed the Minnesota budget approved by your legislature is $30.1 billion dollars for the 2010-2011 biennium. Your governor says this isn’t enough. In comparison, the Nebraska biennium is $6.9 billion.

    Now I realize that Nebraska has a smaller population (1.8 million vs. 5.1 million… a ratio of 1:2.8), and that the liberal elites of Minnesota think everywhere else is populated with lower-quality-of-life hayseeds (the bad part of “Minnesota nice”). Still, why is there so much spending in the Great North?

    By Nebraska standards (I’ve lived both places and though NE was the better), Minnesota should spend only 19.3 billion per biennium – about a third less than approved by the Minnesota legislature. And, your Governor and Legislature wants still more? What give?

  • Gabe says:

    Reforming the system for the future is far more important than this year’s budget. If the GOP is really going to hold firm to reform then the increased government spending this year can be cut back with spending reforms in the future.

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