Dayton accedes on auditor role to clear special session path
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday he will no longer insist on the repeal or modification of a new law regarding the state auditor's duties as a condition for him calling a special session.
Dayton said he would "with great reluctance" back away from a position that a change to a new auditor law be undertaken in a special session. House Speaker Kurt Daudt said earlier Monday that the GOP won't budge on law adopted in May that will eventually let counties hire private auditors for financial reviews now done by the state auditor.
State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who argues privatization would weaken oversight of taxpayer funds, said on Twitter she would "pursue all avenues" to block the changes. Dayton said he would resume the fight during next year's session.
While criticizing Republicans as intransigent and bent on crippling the state auditor's office, Dayton said he didn't want the weeks-long standoff to force a partial government shutdown in July that could have put 9,500 public employee jobs at risk. The auditor dispute was holding up action on remaining budget bills that fund several big agencies, including the departments of agriculture, education and natural resources.
The governor said there are four to seven remaining items in budget bills that must be sorted out before he will call a special session, which could occur later in the week.
Dayton said he is demanding a few changes to an economic development and energy bill but also urged lawmakers to provide more money for broadband Internet grants, a sex offender confinement program and rail safety improvements. Additionally, he wants to give Rochester more flexibility to use local sales tax money in concert with a Mayo Clinic expansion project known as the Destination Medical Center.