A year unlike nearly any other in Minnesota politicsThe past year was packed with disputes under the Minnesota Capitol dome, often involving Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature sparring over money issues. It was a year full of surprises.
By: Don Davis, Alexandria Echo Press
ST. PAUL -- The past year was packed with disputes under the Minnesota Capitol dome, often involving Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and the Republican-controlled Legislature sparring over money issues.
It was a year full of surprises.
January 3: Dayton was inaugurated as one of the state’s most liberal governors, then immediately puts a tax-the-rich strategy at the top of his priority list.
January 4: The first Republican-controlled Legislature in decades convenes with lawmakers expressing optimism, but admitting they may need a special session to plug a budget deficit.
Late January: Lawmakers and the Dayton administration say they want to approve a new Vikings football stadium, but only after passing a state budget.
January 31: Dayton suggests spending $1 billion for public works projects, with him picking half and the GOP-controlled Legislature deciding half.
February 9: In Dayton’s first State of the State speech, he says, “Compromise doesn’t mean we have to agree, thank goodness, because we won’t.”
February 10: Dayton vetoes Republican bill that would cut $900 million from state budget.
February 16: Dayton unveils a $37 billion, two-year budget proposal.
February 28: Minnesota leaders learn the budget deficit they face is $5 billion, not the $6.2 billion they expected.
March 3: Dayton signs bill he and Republican lawmakers like, to speed environmental business permits.
March 7: Dayton bucks Education Minnesota and signs Republican-pushed bill to give mid-career professionals an easier route to becoming teachers.
March 10: Legislative Republicans say they want to spend $34 billion in the next two years, about the same as in the last budget but $3 billion less than Dayton proposes.
April 15: Dayton signs bill funding agriculture programs, the only budget bill he and Republicans could agree on before July.
May: Talk heats up about a Vikings stadium and it appears a bill is near.
May 21: Legislators approve Republican-written constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; voters will decide the issue in November of 2012.
May 23: On its last regular-session day, Legislature passes budget bills without governor’s blessing on the last day of the regular session.
May 24: Dayton vetoes budget bills.
June 17: A self-imposed deadline to finish a stadium bill passes without agreement.
June 30: Republicans fill the legislative chambers begging Dayton to call them into session to pass a temporary budget and avoid a shutdown; Dayton refuses.
July 1: Minnesota state government begins a partial shutdown, which by the time it ends on July 20 is the longest in state history and one of the longest ever in the country.
July 14: Dayton breaks the budget impasse by dropping his plan to raise taxes on the rich and accepting an offer Republicans made on June 30.
July 14-18: Final budget negotiations go on behind closed doors.
July 19: Dayton orders the Legislature into a special session to pass a state budget; it lasts 12 hours and 35 minutes.
July 20: Legislators approve $498 million worth of public works projects to be funded by the state selling bonds.
July 20: Dayton signs 11 budget bills spending $35.7 billion over two years, a budget no one likes; he also signs public works bill.
July 21: “Open” signs return to Minnesota government buildings.
September 23: The country’s third major credit-rating agency downgrades Minnesota’s credit rating, blaming a budget that uses borrowed money to fund on-going needs.
October: Word spreads that a tax law change means local governments will not get as much from the state as expected, and many officials say they will just raise property taxes and blame the state.
November 2: Plans for a pre-Thanksgiving special legislative session to deal with stadium fall through.
November 7: Millions of dollars in federal health-care aid temporarily stop when Republican senator raises questions.
December 1: News of $876 million budget surplus is a pleasant surprise to state leaders who expected a deficit.
December 2: State Republican Chairman Tony Sutton, who helped engineer his party’s takeover of the Legislature, abruptly resigns, leaving the party with what some estimate to be more than $1 million in debts.
December 5: Judge stops Dayton-ordered election for day care providers to join union.
December 6: Major stadium hearing yields no agreements, but lots of ideas about how to finance one, mostly by gambling.
December 15: Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch quits her leadership position, saying it is time to move on.
December 16: Four senators in Senate leadership reveal that the night before Koch resigned, they confronted her with information that staffers claim she had an inappropriate relationship with an employee.
December 27: Senate Republicans elect new leader.
December 31: State Republicans elect new party chairman.
ON THE HORIZON
Looking ahead, several 2012 dates appear important.
January 24: Legislative session begins at noon.
February 1: Vikings’ Metrodome lease expires.
February 2-7: Recess for precinct caucuses.
February 21: New legislative district maps released.
February 29: New budget forecast unveiled.
April 6-13: Easter-Passover break.
April 30: Legislative leaders plan to adjourn for the year.
May 21: Session must end under state Constitution.