Breaking: Dayton caves, will call special session

Looks like Republicans have prevailed in Minnesota.  Governor Mark Dayton has “reluctantly” agreed to the GOP’s June 30th budget proposal and will call a special session to pass it in three days, ending the state shutdown started by his veto of the budget proposed in May:

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter Thursday to House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, saying he “reluctantly” agrees to accept the Republican budget proposal from June 30 if it will end the government shutdown.

Dayton said accepting the offer would bridge a $1.4 billion gap between him and the Republican leadership. The governor says he has “serious reservations” about the GOP plan, but Minnesota’s government shutdown must end.

“If this gets resolved and gets Minnesota back to work in the next few days, then it doesn’t matter what people say about me,” Dayton said.

John Hinderaker notices that Dayton gave up on the reason he ordered the shutdown:

As I read Governor Dayton’s letter to the Republican leadership in the legislature, the most notable fact is that Dayton has given up on imposing tax increases as a condition of ending his shutdown of state government. Why did Dayton agree to end his shutdown now? This is pure speculation, but my guess is that he is looking at poll data that are not supportive of his position.

Will the result of Minnesota’s shutdown (assuming the Republicans agree to Dayton’s terms, or something very close to those terms) be a harbinger of what happens at the federal level? I hope so.

I’m sure we all do.  The fact remains that the shutdown turned out to be entirely unnecessary.  Dayton must have thought that his class-warfare schtick would sell with the same Minnesotans that put Republicans in charge of the legislature for the first time ever.  He had just started a tour of the state to sell his side of the shutdown; one can only presume that the feedback was less positive than Dayton imagined.

For that, he can only thank himself.  When Gov. Mark Dayton forced a government shutdown in Minnesota, he had a responsibility to select which state functions are “essential” and which could be furloughed until a budget gets put into place.  Let’s just say that Dayton’s notions of “essential” are, well, fanciful.  We’ve already noted that Dayton anointed his own housekeeper and chef to be “essential” to state operations, although Dayton later claimed that he would pay the chef out of his own pocket.

For the rest of us citizens, however, Dayton has been a lot more stingy on services … but not on enforcement.  In one example, alcohol distributors can’t make sales because license renewals cannot be issued without state workers in the offices.  However, if they try to make the sales, Dayton’s enforcers are still on the job to stop them, emphasis mine:

Miller, Coors and other popular beers may disappear from Minnesota stores and bars within days because brewing giant MillerCoors lacks the proper licenses due to the state’s government shutdown.

MillerCoors has 39 “brand label registrations” with the state that expired last month, and the employees who process renewals were laid off when state government shut down July 1 in a budget dispute, Doug Neville, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said Wednesday.

State alcohol enforcement officials who remain on the job recently told officials with Chicago-based MillerCoors LLC that they need to come up with a plan soon for pulling their products he said.

In other words, people who want to comply with the law have no recourse, but the state has no qualms about enforcing licensing laws that Dayton prevents them from complying with.  It’s not just alcohol distribution and registration licensing, either.  Those who want to fish in Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes will find zero opportunities to get a license, and hundreds of game wardens looking to cite them:

Anglers fishing Minnesota waters without a fishing license are violating the law and face possible citations, state officials said Wednesday.

It doesn’t matter that resident and nonresident anglers can’t buy licenses because of the state government shutdown.

“It’s black and white — you must have a license to fish,” said Tom Landwehr, Department of Natural Resources commissioner. …

The state’s conservation officers still have discretion whether to issue citations or warnings, said Jim Konrad, DNR enforcement chief. But Konrad said Wednesday that the shutdown is no excuse to fish without a license.

“We certainly are writing some citations for fishing without licenses,” he said. “And we’re telling people they can’t fish if they don’t have one.”

The state’s 180 conservation officers have been pressed to do other tasks during the shutdown, and they are spending far less time enforcing game and fish laws. But they still are enforcing those laws, Konrad said.

Maybe this would be a good time to get the state out of the licensing business altogether.  But if the state is refusing to give residents an opportunity to comply with these registration and licensing laws because Dayton won’t sign a budget without tax increases, then the state should be standing down from enforcement as well.

Republican legislative leaders are reviewing Dayton’s missive, but it’s an almost total capitulation.  They will take the special session and the win.

Update: Lots of people drawing parallels between this and the national debate over the debt-ceiling limit.  It might foreshadow an eventual Obama fold, but I’m not certain that it’s a great indicator.  First, I think Dayton was counting on a lot more public outrage over the shutdown than it prompted.  The people who felt it most were his own allies in the public-employee unions.  If the markets revolt over the debt-ceiling issue, there will be a lot of pressure on both sides to move.  Second, Dayton isn’t exactly known for his intestinal fortitude anyway.