UPDATED 8:50 p.m. July 6 — With the governor and legislature at an impasse, enter what some might label the Superheroes of Sensibility.
Some of Minnesota’s brightest political minds have put together a bipartisan panel tasked with devising a solution to the state’s $1.7 billion budget gap and ending the state shutdown.
The committee, which will begin its work as early as Wednesday, was created by former Minnesota politicians Vice President Walter Mondale, Gov. Arne Carlson and U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger.
“We were trying to find people with superb professional backgrounds and exemplary roles in impartial public leadership,” Mondale told reporters Tuesday morning at Minneapolis City Hall.
Members of the committee include:
- Steve Dille; Co-chair (former GOP state senator)
- Wayne Simoneau; Co-chair (former DFL state legislator)
- John Gunyou (city manager of Minnetonka)
- Jay Kiedrowski (former Finance commissioner under Gov. Rudy Perpich)
- Jim Campbell (former CEO of Wells Fargo)
- Kris Johnson (former vice president of Medtronic)
- Jim Schowalter (current Minnesota Management and Budget commissioner)
“This is as good a group as could have been assembled," Carlson said. "With John Gunyou and Jay Kiedrowski, in particular, we certainly have two of the best finance people in Minnesota history, as far as I’m concerned."
State Sen. Scott Dibble, a Democrat who represents a piece of Southwest Minneapolis, likes both the idea behind the committee and its composition.
"I think it is a good thing because the people who came up with it," he said. "Those who will hopefully take an active role are highly respected and people who have successfully managed the state during past difficult situations."
The failure of the legislature to do its job this session has necessitated the panel's formation, Dibble said. While the people of the panel are beyond reproach, Dibble said, "this is most likely going to come down to the people of Minnesota."
"The citizens have to apply pressure to open up a space for a resolution to take place," he said. "Compromise must occur because compromise is a big part of the design of the political process in this country."
Carlson and Mondale each stressed the importance of finding a quick solution to the budget impasse—both for the state and people of Minnesota.
“Our fear is that large sums of money, large interests will come into Minnesota and cause a freezing of attitude and make it very difficult for compromise to become a reality,” Carlson said.
Mondale added: “We understand that thousands of people depend on Minnesota’s ability to resolve this crisis quickly.”
Neither Mondale nor Carlson will serve on the committee. Their role was one of creation and sponsorship.
“We’re not in this to negotiate,” Carlson said. “We’re in this to provide a third solution. I would anticipate the ultimate support of the both parties.”
Carlson said he expects the committee to come up with a workable solution no later than Friday. Whether legislators and the governor will heed any recommendations offered from the group is an open question.
Southwest Minneapolis Patch is continuing to reach out to your legislators and will update this story with their thoughts as they come in.