Editorial: Short session, short tempers?Minnesota lawmakers convene the "short session" today. Short it may be; they must adjourn by May 19. Short and sweet? Unlikely.
By: R-E Editorial Board, The Republican Eagle
Minnesota lawmakers convene the "short session" today.
Short it may be; they must adjourn by May 19.
Short and sweet? Unlikely.
Tempers are near the surface. The hot buttons are moving targets — costly health care, dangerously inadequate transportation funding, a weak economy and a state budget that's bleeding. Legislators, whose primary task is approving a public works bonding package, are staring at a $373 million deficit.
DFL lawmakers should feel tremendous pressure to deliver the goods.
They took over the House after the 2006 election. They promised big things for 2007, and results were mixed.
They then pledged bigger and better things for 2008, starting with health care reform. This was to have been the healthiest, most healthful session in the nation.
Circumstances -- namely, the Interstate Highway 35W bridge collapse -- changed all that.
No one's talking miracle cures anymore. Citizens can hope for expanded insurance coverage to the uninsured and maybe some effort to try curb costs for those who have insurance.
• statewide economic concerns and that looming deficit. The new financial forecast will come Feb. 28, potentially adding fuel to the fire and stoking tempers because some fear the red ink could reach $600 million.
• the bonding bill and transportation funding. These obviously go hand in hand. The rub is that economic realities will limit both.
One of the biggest transportation players and therefore 2008 session players is Red Wing's Sen. Steve Murphy. Known for a short political fuse in the best of sessions (he loves verbal retorts and combative debates), Murphy has a chance to ignite people's passions while setting road and bridge priorities for years to come.
He also risks setting a destructive tone. Calm, cool and collected he often is not on the Senate floor. But he can be. We hope he will be, especially if he hopes to do as he intends and rally the troops to override any gubernatorial veto.
(We aren’t na?ve enough to ask that he rein his anger when ousting Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau from her post as Department of Transportation commissioner. We do hope her confirmation hearing comes after lawmakers finish the transportation bill, however.)
You can't blame lawmakers for being a little testy. This won’t be an easy session. We only ask that they don’t short-change the spirit of compromise. They are going to need it.