Democratic leaders express regret over Pawlenty’s veto of omnibus tax bill

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Speaker reflects on veto

Democratic leaders on Thursday (May 31) expressed regret over Gov. Tim
Pawlenty’s vetoing of the omnibus tax bill, suggesting the Republican
governor was preening for the national political stage.

Pawlenty vetoed the bill, which contained a sales tax exemption and TIF
provision for the Thomson-West expansion in Eagan plus a Burnsville TIF
provision, citing the inclusion of an inflationary adjustment provision
for state spending.



by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter

Democratic leaders on Thursday (May 31) expressed regret over Gov. Tim
Pawlenty’s vetoing of the omnibus tax bill, suggesting the Republican
governor was preening for the national political stage.

Pawlenty vetoed the bill, which contained a sales tax exemption and TIF
provision for the Thomson-West expansion in Eagan plus a Burnsville TIF
provision, citing the inclusion of an inflationary adjustment provision
for state spending.

“DFL leadership and staff were aware prior to the end of session that
its inclusion would result in the entire bill being vetoed,” wrote
Pawlenty in his veto message.

Pawlenty charged the inflationary factor would put government growth “on autopilot.”

DFL leaders counter by saying lawmakers alone decide the budget, not a provision.

Regret over the veto

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, expressed
regret over the veto – property taxes will rise, she said – and implied
the governor’s motives reached beyond Minnesota.

Kelliher, using some of the strongest rhetoric of her tenure, said
Minnesotans are disappointed “that we have a governor who keeps looking
in the mirror and primping for the national stage,”

Kelliher depicted Pawlenty as disengaged, inflexible, difficult to hold to an agreement, speaking at a Capitol press conference.

She further opined that not including inflation in spending was a way
of making the state budget look more sound than it is. “The illusion
needs to end,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, on Wednesday
in a statement also backed the use of factoring inflation into spending.

“Allowing for inflation when constructing a budget is a conservative, honest, common sense standard that is employed by most
responsible governments and businesses,” said Pogemiller. “It is the right thing to do,” he said.

But Republicans and conservatives backed the governor’s tax bill veto.

A poison pill

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, charged Democrats
themselves had scuttled the bill by including the inflation provision
as a poison pill.

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Seifert supports Pawlenty

Seifert dismissed the idea that the governor’s actions
reflect a pining for national politics. “I think that’s fundamentally
unfair,” he said.

Further, Seifert, who attended nearly every budget negotiations with
the governor and DFL leaders, said he didn’t see any example of
Pawlenty striking a private deal only to publicly refute it.

He praised Pawlenty for bringing in a state budget at even a lower rate of growth than he had proposed.

Support for the governor came from other quarters.

Stuck to his principles

“Minnesota taxpayers should be thankful that Governor Pawlenty stuck to
his principles and vetoed this (tax) bill,” said Phil Krinkie,
President of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota.

Both Seifert and Kelliher said budget negotiations next session should
be more public – they were conducted behind closed doors last session
with an agreement by all parties to keep comment to the media at a
minimum.

Although Kelliher mentioned a possible special session, Seifert
rejected the idea of bringing lawmakers back to St. Paul before start
of the regular session in February. “What I would say to you is that we
do not need a special session,” he said, speaking in his office the
Capitol.

There is nothing in the vetoed legislation that arises to an emergency,
Seifert said. The public does not want a special session, he opined.

While vetoing the tax bill, Pawlenty signed the E-12 bill, higher education and transportation finance bills.

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