(DFL-Richfield) was at the Capitol earlier this week to vote on budget bills which ended the 20-day government shutdown in Minnesota. She spoke with Richfield Patch about her experience at the Capitol this week and her constituents' response to the shutdown.
Richfield Patch: Beginning Tuesday afternoon the House and Senate speedily voted on budget bills which allowed the state to get back to work by Wednesday morning. What did you vote for and against?
Rep. Linda Slocum: I voted for the bonding bill and I voted for the pensions bill and that was it. I thought about voting for the legacy bill, but then a colleague pointed out that none of us [Democratic representatives] should be voting for it. The metro puts in 65 percent of the money for the legacy fund and yet doesn’t get anywhere near that amount back for our parks and trails.
Richfield Patch: There was a flurry of activity at the Capitol between the start and end of the special session. What was the process like for a legislator?
Slocum: I didn’t get home until 4:30 in the morning Wednesday. The special session was discombobulated and disorganized. We gaveled in at 3 p.m. [Tuesday] after we were supposed to gavel in at noon, then we recessed for a couple of hours. So we did a whole lot of hanging around to vote on these "bad boy" bills.
It was very grueling and very draining. The whole special session was hurry up, wait, hurry up, wait. The gavel would pound and within ten minutes a bill would be passed. Most people are [now] just trying to catch up and get back on a normal schedule. It wasn’t the kind of session we’re used to.
Richfield Patch: What was the reaction of people in your district to the shutdown?
Slocum: The calls I got from constituents were asking Dayton to hold his spot. I’ve gotten a couple of negative calls, but nothing compared to calls for sticking with Dayton. My district wasn’t particularly beating up on me ... But my heart hurts for those people who lost pay. I don’t ever want to see this happen again. I didn’t take pay during the shutdown, and I’m feeling it, because I’m a single woman. I have a mortgage, a car payment and I’m on my own without someone there to help with those. So I’m feeling the pain, too.
Richfield Patch: What was your response when you heard the news that Gov. Dayton was calling a special session in order to pass a budget and end the shutdown?
Slocum: I understand why Dayton said ‘Let’s get this done.’ [The Republican majority] are people that don’t negotiate. These are ideologues, tyrants. These are people Minnesotans voted for, and that’s why its so important to be careful of who you vote for. It does make a difference.
But is it a budget I’m jumping up and clacking my heels over? To a degree I am. Previous bills were laden with policy. Dayton said 'Don’t send me policy, send me a budget.' Some policy got in. We don’t have school vouchers, and that’s Dayton, bless his heart. So in a way I’m very grateful. He hung tough.