Thursday, May 10, 2007

Will he for a nickel? 

That question is on the minds of the Legislature, and I believe a few Republicans within it, for the compromise gas tax bill that has been crafted in conference committee. The Governor's office has been rather clear that "it'll be a speedy veto." But the DFL this time has tried to find the votes for an override of the veto. The governor is likely then to do a vote count himself -- if he doesn't think the Legislature will sustain the veto, he may choose to accept the bill as a compromise and to prove he is not intransigent. At least, that's what the DFL is hoping for.

Now from a game-theoretic standpoint, what's the best play for Pawlenty? Does it strengthen his hand to keep vetoing bills that do not meet his proposals? I think it does. He threw down a new ground rule earlier this week: No spending bills without the tax bill and an overall budget, which is still languishing in committee. It makes little sense to accept this bill and not have the full budget in view to know where the five cent tax is being spent and where it is not being spent.

If the Legislature holds off final passage until the tax bill (with overall spending targets) catches up, this might get his signature. But it is more likely that he will veto, and the gas tax would return in a mega-omnibus bill late in the session, after all the smoke clears.

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