As many of you know, the legislative session came to an abrupt, and unfortunate, end on Sunday evening.
Bonding Bill Controversy
In a last second political maneuver, Senate Democrats made it abundantly clear where their priorities lie, and it isn't with Greater Minnesota.
After coming to an agreement with the Senate DFL Majority, House GOP leadership brought a comprehensive bonding package to the House floor for a vote, with the promise that Senate DFL would pass the bill without amendments. This measure included $700 million to build transportation infrastructure in Minnesota. The bill passed the House with broad bipartisan support, and was sent to the Senate in enough time for them to pass the bill, without amendments as per the prior agreement.
In an effort to corner the House GOP to vote for light rail funding, the Senate DFL amended the bonding bill to include funding for SouthWest Light Rail, and sent it back to the House, but we had adjourned having completed our business. The Senate tried to un-do their mistake, but the clock has struck midnight, and time was up, costing the people of Minnesota dearly.
Road and bridge funding throughout the state was sacrificed on the altar of SouthWest Light Rail, a project that costs Minnesota's taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per mile. The U.S. Highway 212 Interchange project, an important step forward that will help the flow of traffic heading to and from Glencoe, was put on hold because Senate Democrats went back on their word to House Leadership. They put the needs of Minnesotans on the back-burner to play a political game. This is inexcusable.
At this point, we hope that Governor Dayton will call for a special session in the near future, and vote for the bill that the Senate and House had originally agreed to, without light rail funding
Please contact Governor Dayton and urge him to call a special session and pass the bonding and transportation bill compromise. I have listed his contact information below:
Office of the Governor and Lt Governor
116 Veterans Service Building
20 W 12th Street
St. Paul, MN 55155
Toll Free: (800)657-3717
Tax and Supplemental Budget Bills
In other, more positive news, both the House and Senate passed significant middle-class tax relief for Minnesotans and other measures to help people across generations.
These past two years we have instituted meaningful reforms for Minnesotans at all stages of life. Building on our accomplishments from last session, our reforms this year spanned all generations, including a historic investment in education, as well as legislation to improve quality-of-life and care for our elderly. Our tax reforms will put money back into the pockets of families with young children, college students graduating with loan debt, and farmers.
Notably, Minnesota joined the vast majority of other states in making veterans’ retirement benefits tax-exempt. We want our military men and women to stay in Minnesota once they return from service, and allowing them to keep more of their hard-earned benefits will hopefully make that choice much easier.
Both the House tax bill and supplemental budget proposal had significant bipartisan support in the House, and now await Governor Dayton's signature.
I will keep you informed about a possible special session in the coming weeks. I appreciated your support throughout this session, and look forward to meeting many of you in person this summer.