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State Representative Cindy Pugh

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100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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For more information contact: Leah Patton 651-296-9895

Posted: 2016-05-27
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update (May 27, 2016)


Hello Friends and Neighbors,

As most of you are no doubt aware, the legislative session came to a frustrating close at midnight last Sunday. Before I speak to that, however, I’d like to mention the tax relief and several reforms that the House passed in the last week of session in our tax and supplemental budget bills.

 

Supplemental Budget and Tax Bills

These major bills focused on improving the quality of life and wellbeing for Minnesotans from all walks and all ages. The reforms included extending the child and working family tax credits for young families to lighten the financial burden of rising childcare costs.

In addition, the House made a significant investment in proven k-12 education programs, and started the process of cutting required paperwork by 25% for special education teachers, enabling them to spend more time teaching their students. Both college graduates with student loans and parents investing in a 529 plan to pay for their children’s college educations will receive tax credits.

Small businesses will have the first $100,000 of their commercial property become tax-exempt. There were also reforms to improve quality-of-life and care for seniors in our bills.

One of the reforms I am most pleased with is having made veterans retirement benefits tax-exempt. We want our heroes to stay in Minnesota’s communities and workforce, or to relocate home once they’ve retired from service. Military veterans are amongst the greatest assets our state has; exempting their benefits is small way of saying “thank you,” and it’s simply the right thing to do.

Both of these bills passed with bipartisan support, and are just waiting for Governor Dayton’s signature to be enacted into law.

 

Bonding Bill

On Sunday evening, the House passed an essential bonding bill with nearly $700 million in funding for roads and bridges, and additional allocations for much-needed infrastructure improvements throughout our state. The bill passed with significant bipartisan support in a vote of 91-39.

Once this bill was sent to the Senate however, the Senate DFL went back on their agreement with House Republicans, hijacking the bill with an amendment that would fund the state portion ($135 million) of the almost $2 billion SouthWest Light Rail transit project, a project that would waste tens of millions in taxpayer money on an ongoing basis. The Senate then tried to send the bill back to the House for final approval, attempting to hold essential road and bridge funding hostage to light rail. We had completed business at the House and had already adjourned, leaving the Senate to try to undo their mess. They were unsuccessful, and adjourned at midnight, as dictated by Minnesota’s constitution.

The Senate tanked a great bonding bill that would have made a significant dent in repairing transportation structure; a solid down-payment of sorts on a long-term solution. Instead, within the last then minutes of the biennium, they went back on an agreement, and tried to hustle us into the choice of voting for light rail funding, a position our caucus was solidly against, or voting down a bonding bill, knowing full-well there wouldn’t be time to remove their amendment.

You can see the summary of the Senate debate on the bonding bill the House had passed in this video: https://youtu.be/MXL-zb3AuNU

Here is the chaotic Senate debate in its entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXx4TdUfb0M

The antics demonstrated by the Senate Democrats are absolutely infuriating, and do the hard-working people of Minnesota, who elect us to serve and represent them, a complete disservice.

The best hope we have now is to have Governor Dayton call a special session and pass the transportation-focused bonding bill that had bipartisan support in the House, and which he himself said was a good bill. If you have the time and the inclination, please contact the Governor’s office and call for an immediate special session; the longer we wait, the more special interests will try and leverage their positions for frivolous spending proposals, including for the SouthWest Light Rail project. I will keep you updated as this situation develops.

 

Memorial Day

This Memorial Day Weekend, I want to thank all of the families who have lost a loved one in service to our county. Our fallen military men and women are not forgotten, and we honor their gallantry that has paved the way for our freedom. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage." We remember the sacrifice and high courage of our warriors, today and every day.

Sincerely,

 

Cindy

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