To the editor,
One question continues to arise as I meet with citizens and attend the vast array of summertime events throughout District 18A: Is there going to be a special session?
The simple answer is this: Not until the governor and Democrats quit using a $2 billion light rail line as leverage against middle-class tax relief and a bonding bill.
My mantra all along – one I personally shared with the governor – has been that we should set the light rail discussion aside for now and focus on the issues where there is near universal agreement.
The tax bill, which the governor vetoed over a one-word error after the regular 2016 session adjourned, passed with nearly 90-percent support in the Legislature. It has $801 million in reductions for farmers, college graduates with student loans, families with child care expenses, small businesses and more.
The $700 million bonding bill, with a heavy focus on road and bridge funding, received its requisite super majority in the House before a last-minute Senate amendment doomed the package.
Those bills are two softballs are sitting on tees, ready to be knocked out of the park. But, instead of keeping our focus there, the light-rail curveball has become a distraction – and an unnecessary barrier.
Much has been made of the process of negotiating the terms a special session. To me, those wonky, inside-the-bubble talks are moot. We have two good, widely popular bills that would help Minnesotans if politics are aside and do the right thing. It should be noted the governor now is trying to work around the Legislature to expand light rail – the very issue he used as leverage for a special session – while tax relief and bonding are left to languish.
The light-rail debate won’t go away anytime soon, but it could just as well take place when the Legislature convenes in January instead of being used as a political wedge between citizens and the tax relief and infrastructure improvements they deserve.
Rep. Dean Urdahl, District 18A