Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday submitted an op-ed to Minnesota newspapers concerning the budget deficit and gave an update on where everyone stands. We don't know how much time the governor spent penning the piece, but we hope he didn't waste too much time on it, because it's really nothing more than a summary of what we already know, plus some not-so-subtle jabs at his Republican counterparts in the Legislature.
In the letter, Dayton put the onus of reconciliation squarely on the Legislature's shoulders, saying "just two weeks remain for Minnesota's Republican legislators to decide whether they will agree to the fair and balanced solution I have offered to the state's budget deficit."
The core problem the state is facing is a governor and Legislature that both say they've compromised as much as they can or are willing to. That's the somewhat good news. The bad news is that even though both sides are saying they've already met the other halfway, a schism remains. That makes us wonder: Is either side willing to budge a little further, concede a little more?
"I respect the legitimacy of the mandate Republican legislators received," Dayton wrote. "That is why I have offered to compromise and meet them halfway. They, however, show complete disregard for my mandate, by refusing to compromise even one dollar. The only solution they offer is for me to give in entirely to them.
"If the Republican legislators continue to demand to have it all their way or no way, Minnesota's state government will have to shut down on July 1st. The effects of the shutdown on many Minnesotans' lives will be very hard. Far worse, however, would be the hardships that the Republican budget would impose on even more people during the next two years."
More finger-pointing. Both sides are guilty of it and it's gotten them nowhere.
What was the purpose of this op-ed? It appears Dayton is trying to save face by blaming the Republican-controlled Legislature in advance, letting the voters know, in his words, whose fault this is and how we got to the brink of the state's second shutdown in six years.
Complete waste of time.
If a couple of kids are playing ball in the yard and one of them hits a fly ball that goes through the neighbor's kitchen window, they can blame each other all they want, but in the end, the window is still shattered. The pitcher will blame his buddy who hit the ball. The hitter will blame the pitcher if for no other reason than to take some of the heat off himself. The best thing they can do is share the blame and the cost for fixing the window.
The moral of this story is that neither one should have to pay more than the other to fix the window. If you apply that to our state government, it's easy to see that both sides still have a little more giving to do.
The last thing anyone in St. Paul wants is a state shutdown, a last-resort action that can haunt policymakers especially a governor - for years. But our elected officials who will long be associated with such an event have only 15 days before that nightmarish scenario becomes a reality if that middle ground they've been searching for remains nothing more than a mirage. So Dayton, his administration and Republican leaders will continue to look for it and will more than likely continue to cast stones at the other side.
They had better be careful though, there are plenty of windows to break at the Capitol.