Fate uncertain for governor’s veterans proposals


A hearing on Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental funding requests for veterans programs turned testy, with committee members accusing one another of political gamesmanship.

Rep. John Persell (DFL-Bemidji) sponsors HF2934 that contains the governor’s $1.5 million request to boost funding for a number of veterans programs. It focuses mainly on programs that help veterans reintegrate into civilian life and find jobs following an overseas deployment.

The House State Government Finance Committee laid the bill over after some heated debate. Committee Chairman Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead) said the bill can’t move forward until an acceptable funding source is found. Dayton’s stated plan is to fund the bill by eliminating corporate tax breaks, which Lanning said Republican lawmakers would not approve.

That didn’t sit well with some DFL committee members. Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park) accused Republicans of holding a “fake hearing” on the bill with the intention of letting it die quietly in committee. DFLers said that because the bill contained no tax provisions, it should move forward while an alternative funding source is sought.

Simon made two unsuccessful motions to send the bill to other committees; both failed on party-line votes. Republican committee members said DFLers were playing political games to make them look bad.

“I appreciate there’s a lot of grandstanding and politicking going on and trying to create the mailing pieces for the next campaign,” said Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina).

Meanwhile, others expressed regret that the bill had become a “political football.”

“This simple little bill of mine has gotten more attention than I would have liked,” Persell said.

Some of the bill’s provisions are similar to ones that are currently moving forward in Republican-sponsored bills.

Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) sponsors the companion, SF2487, which awaits action by the Senate State Government Innovation and Veterans Committee.