It's the final weekend here at the legislature, and we still have a great deal of work left to do. Despite having all session long to pass a budget, the majority has waited until the closing days of session to rush through the largest budget the state has ever seen.
The people of Minnesota deserve better than a rushed, last-minute budget that was haphazardly pieced together. We still don't have final bills to review from the majority for the most significant and expensive portions of the budget. This is not the transparency that was promised at the beginning of the session and provides little if any opportunity for constituents of our district to offer feedback on the final version or language in the bills.
Worse, we have wasted valuable time Friday on distractions like a constitutional amendment to facilitate legislative pay increases, Saturday we will be debating the unwanted and unnecessary unionization of small business owners, and others. The Senate spent a record 17 hours debating this same bill before it passed on a party-line vote. I fear we won't have sufficient time to review and debate the massive tax increases that are likely coming, including a potential increase in the gas tax. With gas at $4.29/gallon this weekend, I plan to vote against any attempt to further increase the cost of gas on the hardworking families of Minnesota.
Bonding Bill Fails
For a short time today, some fiscal sanity dawned upon the Minnesota House Chamber when the House failed to pass a bill to borrow over $800 million dollars from the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota. Minnesota's bonding limit is nearing its credit limit and the debt service on the existing bonded debt is becoming the fastest growing portion of current budgets.
The bonding bill, which is usually reserved for the non-budget year, would have borrowed $800 million dollars at a time when there are still $2.7 billion in bonding projects that have already been authorized in the pipeline. If one of the arguments to bond is creating jobs, why have we not yet started the previously approved and authorized shovel ready projects?
I anticipate we will take up and pass a bonding bill next session, but for now I am pleased to see some sanity come to the House at least temporarily, and that we were able to exercise some restraint and not pass a massive bonding bill in a non-bonding year.
Have a safe and enjoyable weekend,
Rep. Jerry Hertaus