We are getting very close to wrapping things up. Legislators could come back to Saint Paul as early as tomorrow for special session.
The last month has been a wild ride. We passed all of our budget bills thinking our work was wrapped up, passing some great bills and reforms that I am proud of.
However the governor has the right to veto bills, and as a result we've been working for the last month to resolve our differences so we can finally finish up the 2016-2017 budget. GOP Leadership has done a fabulous job working through these issues in a calm and patient manner. It's been challenging dealing with what seems like continuous movement by Governor Dayton. When one thing is done and agreed to, 2 more things seem to pop up.
The end result is an excellent education bill that I will be happy to support. We also have a bonding bill that will bring needed dollars to Willmar with 2 projects: A state of the art Poultry Lab and a rail separation crossing that will eliminate a portion of the daily rail traffic through Willmar.
On a positive note, this week the first couple of farms have started to 're-populate' flocks and begin the long process of recovering from the avian flu epidemic. Fourteen more farms could start to re-populate in the coming weeks. This is great news! Let's hope and pray the warm weather will keep our birds healthy until we find the cause of all this.
I am still very disappointed we couldn't get a comprehensive transportation bill through. I was also disappointed that we couldn't get the Senate on board to pass a good tax bill with middle class tax relief. Both of these will be at the top of our priority list for next session. I will work across the aisle during the summer and work to find common ground and a path forward on both of these issues.
I feel strongly raising the gas tax is not a good decision at this time. We just received yesterday the most updated budget forecast for the month of May and we have an additional $53 million in revenues. For the year we have almost $300 million is extra revenue just in 2015. If these trends hold, we could see our budget surplus grow even more, allowing us more money for middle class tax relief and transportation.
My updates will slow down after the final bills are passed. Please keep in touch over the summer and let me know what you think at anytime on issues important to you. I will also be scheduling a town hall meeting after the session is over with Senator Koenen. Date and times are still being worked on. I will let you know as soon as those details are finalized.
I have been staying busy updating groups around our area on our budget and reforms passed this year. Meetings including the New London-Spicer School Board, PACT 4 collaboration's annual meeting, and my final Education Advisory meeting. I also am looking forward to speaking with the Woodlands Board of Directors this week at their annual meeting. It was a good year for Mental Health. We must keep working for our most vulnerable residents.
Hope you enjoy the great weather!