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Pawlenty Delivers on Veto Pledge; Override Season Opens

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Governor Tim Pawlenty's veto this weekend of a legislative bill (HF 885, SF 681) that would raise approximately $1 billion in revenue through income and alcohol taxes and a surtax on credit card companies, marked the official opening of Override Season this spring.

The bill was actually the fourth veto by the Minnesota Governor this session, but it has been the most anticipated by far - a high profile pitting of Pawlenty's ideological stance against tax increases against a DFL-controlled House of Representatives that is a few votes shy to guarantee a successful override.

In fact, journalists have been asking House leaders for months as to odds of whether the DFL woud be able to override what had been seen as Pawlenty's inevitable veto of any tax increase put forth by the DFL legislature.

House GOP Minority Leader Marty Seifert has consistently stated throughout the session that his caucus is completely unified and stands with the Governor against such tax increases. Seifert has gone out of his way to point out that his caucus will not see any of its more 'independent' members peel off to join the DFL - as six did during 2008's successful override of a transportation bill that also included tax revenue when the DFL had two fewer members in their caucus.

Historically, only 14 of the 44 attempted overrides in Minnesota that the legislature has sought since 1939 have been successful. Of the 30 which have been voted down or stalled, 80 percent (24) have first failed or been tabled in the House, with just 20 percent (6) ending up D.O.A. in the Senate.

That is likely to be the case again in 2009, should the DFL push for an override on the tax bill - although two DFLers voted against the tax hike in the Senate, leaving the majority party at 44 votes - one shy of a successful override in the upper chamber if all members voted.

Of the 14 successful override attempts, nine occurred during the tenure of Jesse Ventura - when Republican and DFLers frequently joined forces against the third party governor. Of the remaining 5 overrides, all occurred during Republican gubernatorial administrations - one under Pawlenty (2008), two under Al Quie (1982), 1 under Harold LeVander (a 1967 special session), and 1 under Luther Youngdahl (1949).

Only two override attempts of DFL gubernatorial vetoes have been made since 1939 out of 72 total vetoes: one in 1988 when Rudy Perpich served as Governor, and one in 1957 when Orville Freeman was in office.

Overall, there have been just 5 successful overrides of Republican vetoes out of 27 attempts (18.5 percent), and only 7.5 percent override attempts were even initiated out of the 359 vetoes that occurred while these GOP governors were in office.

Legislative Override Attempts by Gubernatorial Administration, 1939-2009

Governor
Party
Term
Attempts
Overrides
Jesse Ventura
Reform
1999-2003
14
9
Arne Carlson
GOP
1991-1999
12
0
Al Quie
GOP
1979-1983
6
2
Luther W. Youngdahl
GOP
1947-1951
4
1
Tim Pawlenty
GOP
2003-present
2
1
Harold LeVander
GOP
1967-1971
2
1
Rudy Perpich
DFL
1976-1979, 1983-1991
1
0
Elmer L. Andersen
GOP
1961-1963
1
0
Orville L. Freeman
DFL
1955-1961
1
0
Edward J. Thye
GOP
1943-1947
1
0
Wendell R. Anderson
DFL
1971-1976
0
0
Karl F. Rolvaag
DFL
1963-1967
0
0
C. Elmer Anderson
GOP
1951-1955
0
0
Harold E. Stassen
GOP
1939-1943
0
0
Total
 
 
44
14
Note: Data from Minnesota Legislative Reference Library compiled by Smart Politics.

While Pawlenty is getting a lot of ink for his high-profile vetoes in recent years, he is still far from challenging the Veto King, former Republican Governor Arne Carlson. Carlson's 179 vetoes (none of which were overridden), still account for 36.9 percent of all vetoes issued in the Gopher State during the past 70+ years. Pawlenty is second with 74, or 15.3 percent.

Carlson averaged 22.4 vetoes per year he served as governor. Pawlenty, at 11.4 vetoes per year, trails Ventura, at 13.5 per year, in third place for that distinction.

In sum, 307 of the 485 vetoes issued since 1939 have occurred during the last three administrations, or 63.2 percent, even though Pawlenty, Ventura, and Carlson have only served 18.5 of the past 70 years (26.4 percent).

Gubernatorial Vetoes, 1939-2009

Governor
Party
Years
in office
# Vetoes
% Vetoes
Vetoes per year
Arne Carlson
GOP
8
179
36.9
22.4
Tim Pawlenty
GOP
6.5
74
15.3
11.4
Jesse Ventura
Reform
4
54
11.1
13.5
Al Quie
GOP
4
31
6.4
7.8
Luther W. Youngdahl
GOP
6
27
5.6
4.5
Harold E. Stassen
GOP
6
25
5.2
4.2
Karl F. Rolvaag
DFL
4
22
4.5
5.5
Rudy Perpich
DFL
10
20
4.1
2.0
Wendell R. Anderson
DFL
6
19
3.9
3.2
Orville L. Freeman
DFL
6
11
2.3
1.8
Harold LeVander
GOP
4
9
1.9
2.3
C. Elmer Anderson
GOP
2
7
1.4
3.5
Elmer L. Andersen
GOP
2
4
0.8
2.0
Edward J. Thye
GOP
2
3
0.6
1.5
Total
 
70.5
485
100.0
6.9
Note: Data from Minnesota Legislative Reference Library compiled by Smart Politics.

There is another potential problem for the DFL leadership in any quest for an override. Of its three members who voted against the bill in the Senate (3-term Sen. David J. Tomassoni (SD-05), 2-term Sen. Dan Sparks (SD-27)) and House (12-term Rep. Gene Pelowski, HD-31A), none faced competitive contests during their last campaigns.

Tomassoni won by 55.7 points over Republican Matt Matasich in 2006 and Sparks won by 35.5 points over Republican George Marin. In 2008, Pelowski cruised to a 35.6-point victory over Republican Rhett Zenke.

While it is conceivable that these DFLers could flip without jeopardizing their potential re-election prospects in 2010, their quite visible opposition to otherwise quite unified DFL caucuses suggests they have strong policy objections to this bill and will not easily yield.

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1 Comment


  • Arne, "please come back"

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