The letter from Gov. Mark Dayton upbraiding House speaker Kurt Zellers for his comments on fiscal notes brought a swift response from Republicans today.
Their take? We weren't the ones that opened that can of worms.
Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch and Deputy Majority Leader Geoff Michel played a tightly edited greatest hits collection of DFL leaders discussing fiscal notes. The comments date from 2008, when Sen. Ann Rest introduced a bill (SF3180) to allow appeals of fiscal notes.
The appeal section was dropped when the measure got included in a larger fiscal reform bill. It survived only as a requirement to document fiscal notes more extensively. Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the whole thing.
DFLer Dick Cohen, headliner of the video clip, addressed the matter today.
The upshot: Cohen concedes the Legislature and previous administrations tussled over the price tags on the bills they were carrying. But he says they didn't ignore them as the GOP is doing this year.
Here's what he said about it:
"In the fiscal note process over the years, there's always been a little bit of give and take with finance, now MMB, 'does this work? does it not work?' What I can tell you as the finance chairman over the last eight years, we never booked anything in the budget unless there was a fiscal note. Never."
"There were certainly issues where we thought we ought to get a different fiscal note, or we that we thought didn't quite work. But we took the number that came from MMB. And that wasn't something when I was finance chairman. That was something when Gene Merriam was finance chairman. When we had the trifurcated finance committee. Two years Doug Johnson was finance chairman. I can't speak for when Jerry Willett was finance chairman, because I wasn't here."
"But, all the years I've been here, we never ignored MMB, and previously finance, relative to promulgation of the fiscal notes. And those are governors Perpich, Carlson, Ventura, Pawlenty. Certianly the DFL had significant differences with Tim Pawlenty. But we utilized the fiscal notes, as promulgated by the agency."
So the reality is that the Republican budget proposals contain numbers that are cooked to their taste when it comes to cost and impact. I have little hope they are actually accurate.
Standard Republican Procedure. "Look over there!" they shout, while picking your pocket.