To the Editor:
There will be a lot of finger-pointing in light of the conclusion to the end of our legislative session. I would like to make a few things clear.
We passed several major bills on the last day of the 2016 session: The Legacy Bill, Taxes and a Supplemental Spending Bill. In the Tax Bill farmers, veterans, college graduates, families with young children and small businesses will see tax relief. Highlighting some of these, there is $90.6 million in tax relief for farmers, $146 million in tax relief for every small business by repealing the the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial tax on property values and $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working-family tax credit.
But the bonding bill, with its transportation provisions, was derailed by a light-rail provision inserted by the Senate Democrats in literally the last minutes of the session. Let me emphasize that we in the House had done what you elected us to do. All major bills had passed and we had just sent an excellent infrastructure and road and bridge package to the Senate. House Republicans and Democrats together passed it 91-39. It was expected that the previously agreed to provisions would pass in the Senate as well and be sent to the governor.
Instead, Senate Democrats inserted South West Light Rail Transit after House leadership had made it plain to them that it was unacceptable to us. So, instead of $700 million for local roads and bridges, covering hundreds of lane miles and putting hundreds of workers on the much needed projects, they introduced a provision just five minutes before the constitutional end of the session and entirely sunk the bill.
This was the best bonding bill I’ve ever seen during my time in the House. It was virtually all infrastructure, the kind of bill for which I’d long advocated. It was well-balanced geographically and politically. It included twice the usual amount for wastewater infrastructure needs. Locally, the Litchfield request for $3 million for electric generation was included.
Yet, Senate Democrats chose to sink road and bridge funding and dozens of other fine projects for funding light rail trains. I urge a quick resolution to this unfortunate mistake.
Rep. Dean Urdahl