Negotiating In Secret Leads To Complaints

Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders heard from many observers that negotiating the budget behind closed doors in a closed Capitol building was bad.

They rejected that criticism. Dayton said the bills mostly are ones the Legislature passed, and he vetoed, in May.

“It was mostly a matter of subtraction than addition,” he said of the compromise bills, meaning most provisions already had been debated.

“The public, the media and many of those involved in the legislative process were disgusted by the complete disregard for transparent and accessible government,” Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, said. “What Speaker (Kurt) Zellers called the ‘cone of silence,’ with budget negotiations behind closed doors, must become a thing of the past.”

Marty reminded Minnesotans that since 1972 legislative committee meetings are to be open to the public.

“Unfortunately, over the past four decades, this openness has been slipping away incrementally,” Marty said. “While committee meetings are open to the public, many of the most important policy and budget decisions are now made behind closed doors, in conference committee negotiations and in budget negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders.”