Today is the last day of the legislative session here in Minnesota. The action has been furious over the past couple of weeks, with the Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, enacting a billion dollar tax increase along with spending bills that contain explosive increases.
Governor Tim Pawlenty has played the role of Horatius at the Bridge, and so far he is winning hands down. He vetoed the Democrats’ giant tax increase, and yesterday his veto was sustained in the House, with two Democrats joining all Republicans. Also, the Democrats made a grave tactical error by sending Pawlenty spending bills ready for his signature. But, with a constitutional requirement of a balanced budget and the Dems’ tax increase vetoed, cuts will have to be made. In the present posture, Minnesota law allows Pawlenty, in effect, to write the state’s budget for the next two years. He can use a combination of line item vetoes and “unallotment” to direct spending where he thinks it needs to go, while maintaining a balanced budget. The whole situation, which right now looks great for Republicans and for the people of Minnesota, is a testament to Pawlenty’s political skill and to the determination of a rock-solid Republican caucus in the House, under the leadership of Marty Seifert.
But the Democrats haven’t given up. The session lasts until midnight tonight, and they are likely to propose a different package of tax increases, seek further overrides, etc. Thus, at 5:30 this afternoon there will be a “Storm the Capitol” rally on the Capitol steps. The purpose is to oppose veto overrides, increased taxes, and last-minute deals that will result in wasteful spending. It also should be a victory party of sorts, as Minnesota conservatives have shown how much can be achieved, even against apparently daunting odds.
So, if you live in or anywhere near the Twin Cities, I’d encourage you to attend. I think I’ll be one of the people speaking at the rally. Show up, and let your voice be heard!