I'll say this for Mark Dayton -- he's a thoroughly nasty piece of work. His veto of the tax bill that was the top priority of the Republicans, on the eve of the Vikings stadium vote was one of the more cynical things I've seen in a while.
His reasons are even more cynical -- see if you can follow Dayton's logic here, as reported by Jim Ragsdale at the Star Tribune:
Dayton said the tax breaks would add $145 million to a deficit already projected at $1 billion in the coming budget cycle and was tilted too heavily to corporations, with only limited support for homeowners.
However, he does support building a stadium that will be a drain on state coffers for years and years. Not surprisingly, Republicans aren't pleased:
"We have a governor that's called us unfit to govern, he's called us liars, said we're sneaking around him," said normally amiable Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester. "That gets a little tiring."
I imagine it would. But what's worse is this -- Dayton assumes he can get by with it.
Dayton is counting on the Republicans being intimidated by the likes of KFAN radio guy Dan Barreiro, who turned House Speaker Kurt Zellers into an incoherent puddle of goo in a hostile radio interview on Thursday. He's also counting on the purple face-painted hordes who have been hanging out in the Capitol to add to the intimidation. And Dayton knows that if the Republicans actually show some spine and vote down the Vaseline Dome, they'll get Barreiroized by every bobo with a microphone on the public airwaves and drowned in bad ink from the nakedly self-interested Star Tribune. Thuggery often works on Republicans, especially when you have Republican leaders who hate negative publicity more than they hate hoovering the wallets of their constituents.
So what do you do? Roll over and die? Here's a modest suggestion:
Dayton may have his cynicism and his various praetorian guards, but the Republicans have one advantage -- they control the calendar. So what they should do is schedule a veto override vote before the stadium vote. Then you put the DFL legislators on notice; if you sustain Dayton's veto, the stadium bill dies. And if the stadium bill dies, immediately adjourn the session. And if Dayton tries to call the lege back into special session, the price becomes not only the governor's signature on the tax bill, but one or more other bills that he's vetoed. Some combination of tax relief and maybe, say, the teacher tenure bill, or tort reform, would do nicely.
Would the Republicans be denounced everywhere and by everyone if they did that? Of course. But that's going to happen anyway. If they just take it and roll over for Dayton, they'll get no credit for doing so either -- the headlines will crow that Dayton's leadership saved the day. If you've been assigned the black hat, you might as well wear it proudly and get something out of the session that will actually help the state.
There's been a game of chicken going on all along in this session. So play.
Cross-posted and comments welcome at Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood.