Gov. Mark Dayton rejected a tax-cut bill at midnight Tuesday by declining to sign it over a wording error he considered too costly to ignore.
Dayton used a pocket veto to down the plan that would have delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in new credits, exemptions and deductions. Besides the relief for farmers, businesses and college graduates, the plan also included a property tax writeoff sought by the developers of a new professional soccer stadium in St. Paul.
The DFL governor was due to explain his decision and the road ahead in a 10 a.m. news conference. He also hoped to convene a meeting of top Republican and Democratic lawmakers about what it would take to revive the tax measure and other items in a possible special session.
Dayton had come under intense pressure from Republicans, groups with a stake in the bill and ordinary Minnesotans who said they would stand to gain from the various breaks. Dayton has said he supported the bill and would have signed it if not for the error.
The one-word problem was in a section dealing with tax rates for bingo halls. In defining the facilities that were eligible, bill writers included an "or" instead of an "and" in the criteria. That had the potential to turn an intended $1.5 million provision into one that would cost the state $101 million and threaten the funding stream for the new Vikings football stadium in the process.
The tax bill was among the legislation rushed together in the 2016 session's final days. Some lawmakers said the drafting error could have been addressed with a letter from committee leaders stating their intent, but Dayton's administration said it was too big of a gamble to go that route.
Among Dayton's conditions for a special session are that lawmakers complete work on a transportation finance proposal that contains funding for both roads and mass transit, that they pass a public-works borrowing plan with projects he endorses and they revisit some budget items he says were left out of a bill he signed last week.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, has said that he worries about a special session languishing as the plate gets too crowded and lawmakers move too far into campaign season.
Your support matters.
You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.