Dear friends and neighbors,
The pace has really picked up in the 2017 legislative session. Last week, House Republicans announced a budget proposal which included $1.35 billion in tax cuts and $600 million from the general fund for roads and bridges (no new taxes). Governor Dayton's budget included just $280 million in tax cuts and credits which means he wants to increase government programs and spend nearly $1 billion of the surplus.
Republican House to Pass Major Spending Bills
This week on the House floor, we are taking up major budget bills on K-12 Education, Taxes and Transportation. We will then send them to conference committees with the Senate versions and pass the agreed-upon versions in each Chamber. Next week, it's the Jobs and Energy, Public Safety, Higher Education, Government Operations bills and more. By mid-April, the Governor will have these budget bills on his desk to approve or veto. Normally, if a bill is vetoed and it's a budget bill, it gets sent back to be re-negotiated and reworked and comes back to be voted on again.
The legislature must set a budget and adjourn by May 22, so as House and Senate leadership negotiate with Governor Dayton, please contact Governor's Office to express your support for the House’s proposed budget.
Met Council and Light Rail Will Hit the Fan
I'm pleased that Speaker Daudt named me chair of the Transportation and Regional Governance Policy Committee. The result of our work is that several Met Council reform bills will go to the floor to be voted on and sent to the Governor. The chief complaint these bills address is that the Met Council is un-elected and accountable only to the Governor. In HF 1866 and HF 828, we change the make-up of the Council, give the legislature direct authority over its budget, and put teeth in the legislature's oversight of the Met Council.
Light rail is still out-of-control with the Met Council planning over $6 Billion in projects along various corridors. After much research, I view LRT as grossly wasteful, inflexible, unsustainable, and all about economic development, not mobility. A case in point is SouthWest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT). Last week, 84 Republicans signed a letter to the Trump administration urging denial of $895 million in federal funding for this project which has not received a single recorded vote by the legislature.
Our newly elected Congressman Jason Lewis, who sits on the Transportation Committee, also endorsed our plea in a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Thank you for your support!