It’s that time of year again, when the governor eliminates any doubt that his partisan gamesmanship and political allegiances take priority over doing what’s right for Minnesotans.
For example, on Wednesday he vetoed H.F. 3280, a bill we put on his desk to update the state’s system of establishing water quality standards related to sulfates. The 45-year-old standard that’s on the books today is obsolete, unenforceable and even the governor himself agrees needs to be replaced. Our bill would provide the opportunity for that to happen by allowing us to conduct the process the right way and come up with a proper measures to protect wild rice.
But no, the governor basically thumbed his nose at the iron workers, boilermakers, other tradespeople, mayors and community leaders from across Minnesota, mining professionals and others who came to St. Paul this week to urge him to approve our bill. The kicker? The governor didn’t even give these people the courtesy of personally sitting down with them. He just had staff meet with them two days in a row and then they sent them on their way knowing full well he planned to take down this bill.
On a quick side note: It’s interesting that in the wake of this veto the media focused on our bill, but nobody seems to be asking the hard questions regarding why the state has had a bad sulfate rule on the books for decades on end … and why the MPCA has failed to do something about it despite spending almost eight years of work on the project.
These developments are a disgrace and we will continue working in the House to get this issue straightened out so we have an enforceable sulfate rule that actually serves its purpose by taking appropriate measures to protect wild rice beds and our other natural resources.
The governor and his administration also are showing their true colors by continuing to oppose a common-sense proposal in the House that would use a portion of the bloated Vikings stadium reserve fund to construct three veterans homes in Preston, Montevideo, and Bemidji.
Instead of joining the Legislature and embracing this bill as a victory for veterans, the governor has resorted to personal attacks on a House committee chair who last week led the proposal to bipartisan passage. Then, when the House conducted a committee hearing this week to address the subject, the governor’s commissioner of Minnesota Management & Budget was a no-show.
Our committee didn’t find out until a matter of minutes before the meeting that the commissioner would not be in attendance as we had expected. Maybe it was just easier for him to not show up than to explain why the governor opposes the House plan to help veterans.
The stadium fund is expected to reach $58 million by the end of the current biennium and grow to $120.2 million at the end of next biennium. Why does the governor want to allow such large balances to accumulate and to sit unused? The House plan would simply cap the stadium reserve fund at 127 percent of the annual state debt service on the stadium. For comparison, MMB recommends a mere 4.9-percent reserve for the entire state budget.
So it is with these recent actions by the governor in mind that we look toward the final full week of the 2018 legislative session with the major supplemental budget and tax relief bills still in the process of negotiation. Look for more news as we make our way to adjournment and, for now, have a happy Mother’s Day weekend and good luck with the fishing opener.