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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tama Theis (R)

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Late Sunday night, the Legislature adjourned, concluding the 2018 session. Lawmakers passed and sent a compromise tax conformity and education funding bill, a bonding bill, a supplemental bill and a pension bill to the governor's desk for consideration. These bills built off of last year’s significant accomplishments including substantial middle-class tax relief, the largest investment in roads and bridges in state history without a gas tax increase, meaningful investments in education, and critically-needed reforms to help lower health care costs for Minnesota families.

First, the tax conformity and education legislation was a sincere effort to find compromise with the governor and pass the top priorities of both Governor Dayton and House Republicans. The federal conformity plan that Republicans advanced protected taxpayers, simplified Minnesota's tax code, and provided the first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years. With historic tax reform passed by Congress last year, we felt it incredibly important to pass conformity so folks filing their taxes next year won’t face complications. The bill also made available more than $225 million to help students—nearly $100 million more than what the governor requested, providing new money and additional flexibility for school districts to address budget shortfalls. Governor Dayton expressed he would not sign a tax bill without more money for schools.

In the supplemental budget bill, House and Senate Republicans compromised with the governor—nearly 70 percent of the objections raised by the governor were removed or amended, meeting him more than halfway. The bill contained shared priorities like ensuring safe schools, repairing roads and bridges, tackling the opioid epidemic, protecting aging and vulnerable adults, and preventing a cut to caregivers of disabled Minnesotans.

Unfortunately on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Dayton vetoed both of those bills.

With a simple veto, the governor has negatively impacted folks across our state. Here is a list of just some of the people impacted by his veto decision:

  • Victims of elder abuse
  • Victims of opioid addiction, and medical professionals
  • Victims of distracted driving
  • Special education and Head Start students
  • People dealing with MNLARS hassles
  • Deputy registrars whose businesses are floundering after MNLARS
  • People who need mental health support, particularly farmers and students
  • Farmers and agribusinesses that need Section 179 conformity for equipment depreciation
  • People who live in rural areas without high-speed internet
  • Students who need help to afford college
  • People who need job training and businesses that need skilled workers
  • K-12 students who won’t benefit from school safety funding
  • Taxpayers who will have a difficult time filing their taxes next year
  • Voters concerned about election security
  • Minnesotans concerned about privacy, data breaches, and cyber security
  • CPAs and tax professionals who will be dealing with very complex tax filings
  • Low-income working families who rely on federal child care subsidies
  • New teachers who need licenses, and schools who want to hire them
  • Schools that need adjustments to fully fund special education
  • Patients who care about transparent pricing for health care and prescription drugs
  • People with disabilities, and their caretakers, who would be affected by a 7% cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System

I am still hopeful that Governor Dayton will act positively on the infrastructure-heavy bonding bill we sent him. The majority of funding is dedicated to brick-and-mortar projects, such as roads and bridges, water infrastructure and statewide asset preservation. It includes local projects like $16 million for St. Cloud Prison, $4.45 million to fund renovation at the St. Cloud Armory, and $5 million to help build a new amphitheater in Waite Park. In addition, the bonding bill includes $32 million for the construction of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston, as well as $10 million for the renovation of existing homes.

Even with the governor’s vetoes, I believe the last two sessions have been some of the most productive in recent memory. I will continue to advocate for the people and priorities of our community, and am optimistic the Legislature will again tackle many of these important issues next session.


It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!