In his final media availability at the Capitol for 2009, House GOP Minority Leader Marty Seifert cast a very critical look in his (Tuesday) morning quarterbacking of the 86th Legislative session for 2009.
Calling it "a session of lost opportunity," Seifert continuously employed downbeat prose in his review of the past five months - particularly with regards to how the DFL leadership led the lower chamber.
Seifert says the session began with a "roar of rhetoric, but wasted January, wasted February, wasted March, and then finally started getting some budget bills together in April."
The Minority Leader had frequently criticized the DFL over the past several months for not moving more quickly on budget legislation (that he had predicted in early March the Governor would veto and not be overridden). House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Majority Leader Tony Sertich would offer the rejoinder in kind that they were actually ahead of the GOP's pace when they controlled the chamber in recent sessions (e.g. 2003, 2005).
The important difference, of course, is that in 2003 and 2005 the GOP had a member of their own party in the Governor's mansion who would be friendly to their legislation. In 2009, the DFL knew, or should have known, it would be at loggerheads with Tim Pawlenty on fundamental issues. As such, as the last week revealed, the DFL therefore needed much more time to work with the Governor than it allowed to realize a compromised budget agreement.
Seifert indeed criticized the DFL for its management of the floor of the House, saying they "failed" and spent too much time "shuffling things to the end of session."
With regards to the DFL's inability to account for the fact that Governor Pawlenty held the unallotment card (which he had already used in 2003), Seifert says the DFL leadership "got outsmarted" and must "not have thought ahead on that in the chess game of politics."
The Minority Leader also stated that the DFL made its own bed in passing legislation it knew the Governor was not going to sign, and that they will now surely "lament" whatever the Governor does in the unallotment process.
He then referred to the disgruntled DFL as the "The Misery Commission" - a group which he expects will be "meeting a lot this summer."
The Minority Leader was also critical of how the DFL handled the final hours of session Monday night, calling it a "terrible process" particularly with regards to the billion dollar tax increase that passed at the 11th hour:
"I think the Democrat leadership in Minnesota essentially is running this place like Washington, D.C. - they're cutting off debate, bringing things to the floor in the dark of night, without public testimony, with no time to read the bill. Ask every Minnesotan - do you think that's a good process?"
Seifert says that as a result of the DFL's poor management of the legislature, "The people of Minnesota expected more and got a lot less."
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