Hello from the Capitol,
Minnesotans expect the Legislature to work diligently on their behalf to get a responsible budget passed and signed into law before the end of session. The House and Senate have been working together over the past couple weeks in conference committees in order to find compromise on the discrepancies between each budget proposal. Every budget bill that has passed the House and Senate includes provisions supported by the Governor. However, the Governor has already stated that he will veto every budget bill. I find it disheartening that the Governor has already stopped negotiating for this week and is unwilling to make time in his schedule to work to a compromise with the Legislature, so we can get our work done on time. I encourage the Governor to come back to St. Paul on Monday ready to work.
The Legislature’s budget priority is to provide $1.1 billion of tax relief to farmers, seniors, students, and in general: middle class Minnesotans; invest more than $1 billion in new expenditures to our schools; and pass a $5 billion long-term transportation plan that repairs and improves our crumbling transportation infrastructure. The House and Senate transportation proposal would be funded through current taxes on auto parts, auto rentals, and motor vehicle lease sales, as well as through bonding money. In contrast, the Governor proposed to increase the gas tax, increase motor vehicle registration fees, and enact a metro area sales tax. During a time when the state is experiencing a $1.6 billion surplus, it is not reasonable for the Legislature to propose raising taxes on Minnesotans.
The House and Senate transportation proposal contains a lot of provisions that would benefit our legislative district, these include: dedicating $20 million to a small cities assistance program that allocates funding to cities with fewer than 5,000 residents for local road improvements, and creating a special fund of $25 million for 97 bridge projects recommended by MnDOT. The transportation plan also contains some very important reforms, including requiring the Department of Transportation to achieve efficiencies on all new revenue. It is essential that the Legislature find ways for state government to operate more efficiently and this bill helps accomplish that.
Earlier this week, the Governor vetoed two very important bipartisan pieces of legislation: HF 812, a bill that I co-authored, which would require abortion facilities that perform ten or more abortions each month to be licensed and regulated by the Department of Health, as well as meet a set of standards based on clinical research; and HF 809 which would prohibit funding for abortions from state-sponsored health programs administered by the Department of Human Services, except if the patient’s life is in danger, or in cases of incest or rape (which is already in law at the federal level and in 33 other states). I am disappointed by the action taken by the Governor. However, the work that has been done on these issues is not forgotten. It will help in continuing to build the case for these two pieces of legislation in the future.
If you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any issue related to state government, please feel free to contact me at either 651-296-8237, or email@example.com. Thank you for allowing me to serve you at the Capitol.
Happy Mother's Day!