There are fewer than four weeks remaining in the 2018 legislative session and a full list of crucial items to pass remains. Here is an update from the Capitol:
Transportation Constitutional Amendment
Republicans are gearing up to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would channel money from auto parts sales directly to the construction of roads and bridges. While that sounds reasonable at first glance, it actually puts our budget as a whole in peril by taking money from the general fund. Diverting general fund money to roads creates a large hole in our budget, shortchanging E-12, higher education, local roads, police and firefighters. As the session heads toward adjournment, I hope cooler heads will prevail and we’ll be able to fund our schools, local communities and our roads responsibly.
There is still no final action on the pension bill. Earlier this session, the Senate passed their pension bill 66-0 – with no opposition. The House action is stalled, causing uncertainty to our hard-working retirees. I am urging quick action on approving the pension bill and encouraging legislative leaders to stop playing games with the futures of our retired neighbors.
We will need to act on a tax measure to address the changes in the federal tax bill passed by Congress last year. If there is no action, many Minnesotans will see a large tax increase. The current tax bill released by Republican House leadership provides minuscule tax cuts, but I am supporting Governor Dayton’s approach which targets tax cuts to working families – helping those who need it most instead of the very wealthy and corporations.
Finance Bills Bundled Together
It is easy to tell the end of session is inching up on us by the unusual ways finance bills are being assembled. This year, bills completely unrelated to each other are being combined for debate. As an example, the Transportation Finance bill is being paired with the Health and Human Services bill. These measures are dissimilar in almost every aspect and the manner by which they are being lumped together is a mystery. There is likely to be vigorous debate on the House floor.
As always, please contact me with any concerns or questions.