The newly selected DFL House and Senate minority leaders said they anticipate budget battles with Republicans next year, and plan to hold the new majority accountable for governing.
Editor’s Note: Minnesota Senate Republicans chose Senator Amy Koch as majority leader on Friday afternoon. House Republicans will select their legislative leadership over the weekend.
Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls), the newly selected House minority leader, said he hopes to work cooperatively with the new Republican majority, but also signaled a willingness to challenge legislation that DFLers think goes too far.
“The Republicans now have the responsibility to govern,” he said. “We will work with them as they’ll have us, but we’re also going to hold them accountable for the decisions they are making.”
Thissen and new Senate Minority Leader-elect Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), held a press conference to discuss their role in the upcoming legislative session, when lawmakers will have to deal with a projected $5.8 billion budget deficit. Bakk promised that DFLers would drive a “very tough bargain” on budget negotiations.
“Certainly, we’re going to have our differences with the majority,” Bakk said. “We’re going to negotiate very hard, but at the end of the day, we’re going to be fair.”
Thissen warned Republicans against interpreting the election results as favoring a radical agenda. He said Mark Dayton will likely be declared the eventual winner of the state’s gubernatorial race, proving that Minnesotans desire a moderate approach to governing.
“The one thing I know that the voters didn’t say was that this is a mandate for an extreme agenda in either direction,” Thissen said.
Bakk sounded a mournful note in lamenting the loss of many of his DFL colleagues. He said a wave of DFL legislative staff layoffs is likely coming in December.
“Many of us lost really good friends in this election – really, really close friends that aren’t coming back here to serve with us,” he said.