Thursday, February 12, 2015

Circular firing squads: DFL style

When I heard what was going on in St. Paul Thursday, I was all like......

Gov. Mark Dayton erupted in anger Thursday in a dispute with the DFL Senate leader over a weeks-long controversy surrounding pay raises the governor gave to his cabinet.

"To have a majority leader of the Senate come in and stab me in the back and blindside me is absolutely unacceptable," Dayton said.

Dayton's ire came after Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk led the Senate in voting to suspend the salary increases for state commissioners. All but two members of the DFL-controlled Senate voted with Bakk in favor of the proposal.

The friction between the Capitol's two most powerful DFLers threatens to cast a cloud over the rest of the 2015 legislative session. The two have tussled before, but Dayton indicated Thursday that their relations now were beyond repair.

It's easy for Dayton to be indignant given the fact he will not have to face voters again. But the DFL majority in the Senate is up for reelection next year, so they likely knew how conceding government employees exorbitant salary increases could be a potential wedge issue for the Republicans in their attempts to win back the Senate majority.

Gov. Dayton's petulance continued.

Dayton said Bakk, a former ally, has proved himself untrustworthy because he brought forth the salary smackdown without any warning.

"I'm confronted with two hostile bodies of the Legislature, one with a leader I believe I can trust (Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt) and one I know I can't trust," Dayton said.

"I certainly learned a brutal lesson today that I can't trust (Bakk.) I can't believe what he says to me and connives behind my back."

That's rich. Dayton essentially called Bakk a liar last year when the Senate Majority Leader insisted he wasn't holding up a tax relief bill in response to the House's delay in finalizing plans for the new Senate Office Building. I'm not saying that incident was a factor in Bakk bringing forth a measure to block the cabinet's pay raises, but it certainly removed any partisan consideration where Dayton was concerned.

For a guy who once vetoed a bill that would have made recreational fireworks legal in Minnesota, Gov. Dayton seems to have an innate ability to create enough of his own.


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