Guest Opinion: Not quite finished
We made significant progress last week toward a special session that will allow us to repass the major budget bills Governor Dayton vetoed. After a full week of meetings between the leadership in the Legislature and the governor, agreement has been reached on the education, ag and environment, legacy and capital expenditure bills. The details of those agreements can be viewed at www.house.leg.state.mn.us/cmte/Home/?comm=89026 and are listed under committee documents and are dated June 5.
However, we are not quite finished. The governor continues to refuse to call a special session. In order to agree to the jobs and energy finance bill, he is demanding that legislators go back and delete an item of legislation in a bill he did not veto and he did sign into law.
The state government finance bill passed on a bipartisan basis with 115 (58 percent) yes to 82 (42 percent) no votes and the governor signed the bill into law. That bill contains language that allows all counties to contract with private sector firms for the conduct of their annual audit if they desire.
Currently large counties like Hennepin County and 28 other counties already have that option. Private sector CPAs do the annual audits for virtually all other government entities in Minnesota including cities, school districts, housing authorities and other governmental bodies.
Allowing the remaining 59 counties in the state the choice of contracting with the state auditor or a private auditing firm does not reduce the important function the Minnesota State Auditor's Office fulfills. The state auditor continues to be responsible to "audit the auditors" and step in with a special audit whenever warranted. This appears to be about keeping a captive funding stream that the 59 counties currently must pay to the state auditor's office each year for their audit.
It is our constitutional duty as legislators to renegotiate the bills the governor has vetoed. We have completed that work. However, I believe it would be a very dangerous precedence to accede to Governor Dayton's demand that we start redoing laws that were passed on a bipartisan basis and he has already signed as a condition for convening a special session.
We govern by reasonable compromise and not by one man rule. I take very seriously the trust the citizens of Aitkin County and Crow Wing County have placed in me to represent them in a common sense responsible manner. I remain confident we will reach agreement on this last matter in the very near future.
Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, represents House District 10B