Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has proposed to end the state’s two-week government shutdown by accepting the final offer made by legislative Republicans on condition that they make minor concessions about a bonding bill and by removing socially conservative legislation from their proposal.
Republican leaders say they are studying the proposal and will respond later, but initial reactions from the Republican rank and find show intransigence on withdrawing social issues from the budget fight.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, said that withdrawing the social policy language Republicans championed, would lose his vote.
“If there can’t be any policy changes contained in any of the legislation, then no,” Thompson said.
The Governor’s move might be very clever strategy. Republicans generally and in Minnesota in particular have benefited greatly in recent years by deemphasizing divisive and religiously-tinged social issues and focusing on fiscal issues where the conservative arguments have much wider traction. By forcing Republicans to choose between the secular fiscal conservatives and the religious conservatives in the Republican base, Dayton could force the uglier parts of the Republican coalition back to the forefront in a very high-profile way.
UPDATE: Minnesota Republican leaders have accepted Gov. Dayton’s proposal. Apparently the party has decided to prioritize its budgetary goals over social issues, which is a great thing from a centrist/moderate perspective.