January 3: Session kicks off. Mark Dayton throws a “blue jeans” inaugural. Musical highlight: the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota” Choir singing “Look For The Union Label”. For four solid hours.
January 4: The Humphrey Institute releases a poll showing that 80% of Minnesotans want the Legislature to pass Mark Dayton’s budget immediately. Bloggers point out that the poll included only respondents from Kenwood and Crocus Hill. MPR reports that it’s a nice day for a bowl of Cream of Rice.
January 5: The Star Tribune’s Joe Doyle starts a three part series on “obscene corporate profits” and how they benefit “the rich walking among us”.
January 6: Dayton releases his first budget, calling for $40 billion in spending. Delivering the announcement in blue jeans with the SEIU Singers humming “We Are The World” in the background, Dayton notes that he plans to increase revenues to $41 billion. “We’ll finally have a surplus!” he exclaims, as a crowd described by the Star/Tribune as “50,000 womenandchildren at risk” applauds in the Capitol rotunda. The plan calls for big tax hikes on “obscene corporate profits” and “the rich walking among us”.
January 10: The last of Dayton’s Iron Range supporters are finally bailed out of the Ramsey County lockup after the inaugural.
January 12: Speaker Zellers refers the Dayton budget to the House Very Special Boom Zoom Committee” – actually a group of legislators’ children wearing “Junior Representative” t-shirts. Bill dies, and is colored on, and has juice spilled on it.
January 16: Lori Sturdevant notes that “a seasoned group of bi-partisan policy wonks say that the GOP risks getting tossed out by an angry mob if they don’t raise taxes. Conservative bloggers point out that “bi-partisan” in this case means DFL and Green Party members. Presented with the allegations, WCCO TV reports that Brett Favre just loves Chipotle Big Bols.
January 19: Governor Dayton submits a budget bill involving $42 billion in spending and $ 45 billion in taxes. “A three billion dollar surplus”, Dayton announces to a group of senior citizens (“at least 20,000”, according to the Strib’s Pat Doyle) at the Hockey Hall Of Fame in Eveleth. “It’s like a billion hat tricks!”. Keith Ellison solemnly proclaims that the only reason not to vote for the bill is “racism. Racism from all you crackers. Pay the **** up, crackers”.
January 27: Speaker Zellers forwards the bill to the House Budget Committee. The Mississippi House Budget Committee. Which loses the bill.
February 3: The Humphrey Institute releases a poll showing that eleventy-teen percent of Minnesotans demand tax and spending hikes. KARE 11 News finds eleventy-teen people on the street that agree. Frank Newport of the Gallup Group points out that ‘Eleventy-teen” isn’t even a real number, but something Dennis the Menace used to say to show that he couldn’t count. Rachel Stassen-Berger responded with a piece on “The Override Six, Two Years Later: Profiles In Courage And Extremism”.
February 18: Governor Dayton, speaking at a homeless shelter in Brooklyn Center, holds up James Blount, a three-year-old boy, in front of cameras; notes that “this boy is going to go hungry because of GOP extremism and intransigence tonight”.
February 19: Conservative bloggers point out that the “boy”, Blount, was actually a schnauzer that had wandered over from a nearby housing development. Eric Black of the MinnPost responded with a piece on how animal shelters are suffering under GOP rule.
February 27: Dayton submits his third budget, a $39 Billion plan that is very similar to the budget he proposed during the campaign. Conservative bloggers point out that it has exactly the same problems it had during the campaign; it assumes “the rich” (in this case, Minnesotans who are still employed) will pay the taxes rather than moving or getting Mark Dayton’s financial advisor, that the state can fire contractors whose jobs are both legally mandated and involve skills the state’s workforce doesn’t actually have, among many others.
February 28: The Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” claims that Minnesotans want the Dayton budget passed, that the people want to carry Governor Dayton through the streets on their shoulders, and that violence is about to break out against the Minnesota GOP. Bloggers point out that the survey was conducted entirely at one “Drinking Liberally” event in Minneapolis. Informed of the allegations, KTCA’s “Almanac” embarks on a three-week special on the history of Danish cooking in Minnesota.
March 20: Speaker Zellers assigns the budget to the House Government Operations and Finance Committee.
March 28: Rep. Quam (GOP) of Byron demands that the DFL members of the committee play a game of Twister on the House floor if they want the budget to get out of committee. The committee members comply.
April 8: Nick Coleman, writing his new colum in the Wayzata Shopper, remembers when his father was running things. “The wingnuts wanted to play Twister for a better Minnesota”.
April 12: The Dayton budget comes to a vote in the House. It loses decisively, on state party lines. To signify the defeat, Speaker Zellers ties the budget to a string hanging from the ceiling of the House chamber, and members of the House Republican Caucus whack at it like a piñata.
April 15: Speaker Zellers tells a cheering crowd of 10,000 at the Tea Party rally on the capitol grounds that the budget is dead on arrival. Six pro-tax protesters stand across the street wanly chanting in favor of the Dayton budget.
April 16: The Strib editorial reports that a crowd of “dozens” at the Tea Party rally were evenly split, showing the deep partisan divide in Minnesota politics today.
May 1: , Governor Dayton start making contingency plans for a shutdown. Bloggers point out that the Governor’s plans include evacuating the Governor’s office to Vail, and euthanizing animals in all state parks. Told of the allegations, Keri Miller of MPR wonders on the air “whatever happened to bipartisanship?”
May 14: A day ahead of the deadline, the GOP Caucus introduces a $33 Billion budget that makes steep spending cuts and balances the budget with no new taxes. It passes on a straight party line vote, is sent to the Senate, which also passes the budget by the end of the day. The bill is sent to the Governor.
May 15 Mark Dayton appears at the Hockey Hall of Fame, dressed in a Minnesota Wild Uniform, with Minnesota hockey legend John Mayasich, to veto the GOP budget. “Minnesota demands that we do the responsible thing and pass my budget without all this debate and democracy and crap”, he says, as Mayasich looks on. Bloggers point out that “Mayasich” is actually Alliance for a Better Minnesota chair Denise Cardinal in a bald wig. Told of the allegations, KARE 11 news re-runs the January 4 Humphrey Poll.
May 16: The Strib runs a piece by reporter Pat Doyle, an expose of the “Casualties of the Shutdown”. Doyle, clearly gunning for a Pulitzer, writes a heartrending tale of Minnesotans standing in line at soup kitchens, of families (mostly “womenandchildren”) living in huge “Zellerville” on the Capitol Mall living on McDonalds coffee, and people lining up to throw themselves off the High Bridge. Bloggers point out that government hasn’t actually shut down yet, that nothing Doyle wrote had actually happened, and that the piece was clearly pre-written weeks earlier and run by mistake. Told of the allegations, MPR’s Keri Miller runs a two-hour broadcast on “How Blogs Provide A Chilling Effect On Free Speech”, featuring a bipartisan panel of Larry Jacobs and Nick Coleman.
May 17: Dayton demands the Legislature pass his budget.
May 18: Nobody at the legislature responds.
July 1: Minnesota’s state government shuts down.
July 2: The Strib re-runs the Doyle piece.
July 22: The state budget office notes that business activity is increasing, and tax receipts are rising.
July 23: The Strib editorial board runs an extended interview with Elmer Anderson, who gruffly demands that Minnesota Republicans “think about what’s best for Minnesota” and adopt Dayton’s budget immediately without any of that “commie wingnut debating crap”. Bloggers point out that Elmer Anderson died in 1998, and “Anderson’s” rhetoric read like Nick Coleman writing with a bag over his head. Told of the allegations, MPR’s Mark Zdechlik embarked on a two-week series on “What we can learn about Democracy from the Iroquois”. Salient observation: the Iroquois tradition of “Local Tribe Aid” was considered inviolate.
August 18: The State Budget Office notes that, with no government expenditures and business thriving, the state is in a surplus.
September 2: Katherine Kersten’s column, “Happy Days Are Here Again”, notes that Minnesota is in a much better state with the government shut down. Lori Sturdevant muses in her column that in Wendy Anderson’s day, the governor would have told the State Patrol to arrest Kersten for “making terroristic threats”. Bloggers point out that that is utterly absurd, there is no record of any such demand, anywhere. There is no response to these allegations.
September 23: With no budget in place and government shut down for weeks, Mark Dayton, operating from his office in Vail, orders the National Guard called out to react to what Dayton’s press secretary Tinucci calls the “Terrorist Threats”. Bloggers point out that the “threat” was the conclusion of Sturdevant’s slanderous column about Kersten. The National Guard’s commandant says “the paperwork is in process, call back in July”.
September 24: Dayton exercises his unallotment power on the GOP’s budget. Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch is left visibly speechless on hearing the news.
September 25: Finished with his line item vetoes, Governor Dayton signs a 27 billion dollar budget. Alliance For A Better Minnesota’s Denise Cardinal notes that “Mark Dayton has always been the budget-cutting candidate”. But Andrea Outrage-Guevara, president of Minnesota’s “Alliance of WomynAndChildryn”, speaking at a rally on the capitol grounds that drew “Millions” (according to the Strib), demands that all budget cuts be reinstate immediately or “Dayton will be ousted”.
October 15: Dayton, relocated his office from Vail, sits on a whoopie cushion left in his office by Tony Sertich.