Budget ne-boat-iations: State leaders seek to break impasse on fishing opener

Lousia Scorich portrays Gov. Samantha Conner and Jason Scorich plays House Speaker Randy Jenkins in an April 13, 2019 Great Northern Radio Show sketch about budget negotiations during the Minnesota fishing opener. (PHOTO: Grant Frashier)

It’s almost tradition now. Like powdered wigs and rapping three times on the door of the weather-predicting groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Yes, this weekend Minnesota state legislative leaders and the governor will negotiate the biennial budget while angling on the opening weekend of the walleye and northern pike season.

Gov. Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman are Democratic-Farmer-Laborites. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is a Republican. One of the biggest sticking points is taxes.

Gov. Walz wants a 20 cent per gallon gas tax to pay for massive improvements to roads and infrastructure. He also wants to increase education spending. Gazelka and the Republicans oppose all new taxes. All told, we see a massive $2 billion gap between the DFL and GOP proposals.

It is uniquely Minnesotan to stage a photo opportunity surrounding the fishing opener in hopes it will break a legislative logjam. The last several sessions have generally taught that actual negotiation is a loser’s game, played only when political consequences threaten one or both parties’ grip on power.

This is something I explored with comedy in my most recent episode of the Great Northern Radio Show. In a sketch I wrote, the fictional governor and House speaker argue politics and bait in an exchange that escalates toward a madcap conclusion.

You can hear my governor’s fishing opener sketch here. The bit stars Louisa Scorich as the governor, Jason Scorich as the house speaker, with Téa Renee, C.J. Anderson and Brett Carter in the other roles.

Will life imitate art? We’ll find out this weekend.

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