We have returned from our Easter/Passover break and the pace is steady as we inch toward the May 21 adjournment date. Here is an update from the Capitol:
State Employee Contracts and Pensions
Before our break, the Legislature passed and Governor Dayton signed the public employee contracts. The contracts were negotiated in 2017 and it’s time they were ratified by the legislature.
The Senate has approved a pension bill, providing a $6 billion reduction in current and future costs by lowering state, school district, county, and city liabilities, but the bill languishes in the House. Approval of this pension bill is critical to our state and to the financial future of 500,000 dedicated former state employees. I will push for the pension bill to receive the same overwhelming support as it did in the Senate, where it passed 66-0.
Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul
There has been a tendency this session to craft legislation that shifts funds from one area to another. This makes the budgeting process very challenging and difficult, creating winners and losers. For instance, there is a bill reallocating money from a pool of money that benefits the whole metro area to help one particular area, shorting every other community. Instead of properly funding the republican priorities, this reckless funding method ignores responsible budgeting. We’ve learned from past schemes, that shifting money isn’t a solution to any long term funding needs. I will work with my colleagues to resist pitting one community against another. We need responsible, stable funding for our priorities.
The Work Ahead
There are many unresolved issues that will keep us busy the next six weeks. Among them are tax conformity, gun safety, elder abuse, opioids, pensions, transportation and bonding. As the DFL Lead on Government Operations and Elections, my committee is directly involved in many of these issues. As we prepare for the 2018 elections, we also must ensure that our election process is secure and free from any interference from outside sources.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Michael V. Nelson