The 2015 regular legislative session has adjourned. I’m very much looking forward to catching up with people in our community and spending time with family! I will be walking in parades, attending events, and door knocking all summer long. In fact, the first parade of the summer is only a few weeks away, Albertville Friendly City Days.
I wish you and your family a safe Memorial Day weekend as we take time to honor the fallen service men and women who bravely made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us and uphold our great nation.
Bipartisan K-12 bill vetoed
While the regular legislative session is indeed over, Governor Dayton has unilaterally forced a special session by vetoing the bipartisan, omnibus K-12 Education Finance bill. By vetoing the budget bill for the 2016-2017 fiscal years, state funding of parts of the K-12 system will cease as of June 30, 2015. The primary reason Governor Dayton vetoed the bill is because House Republicans and Senate Democrats agree state funding of universal preschool is not a good idea and was not included in the bill.
Provisions in the bill Governor Dayton vetoed included:
Would have increased new spending by $400 million for K-12 education, 72 percent which goes directly onto the per pupil formula
The new funding represents a 1.5% increase in 2016 and 2% increase in 2017, whereas Governor Dayton proposed a 1% / 1% increase in his own budget
Would have invested $60 million more for early learning scholarships
Would have made available additional funding for facilities maintenance designed to help reduce funding disparities for Greater Minnesota school districts and help finance the upkeep of school buildings
Would have included innovative reforms to increase access to college in school, reduce the number of required tests to allow for more instruction time, and streamline teacher licensure to help school districts attract quality teacher.
Gas tax puts the brakes on transportation
The House Republican plan would have spent $7 billion more toward road and bridges over the next ten years without raising taxes. However, because Dayton and the Democrats never gave up their demand for a gas tax increase, the transportation plan that passed was a scaled-down, two-year plan that still provides substantial funding from current revenue sources, but only modestly increases funding. A few of the funding increases include $5 million more for Greater Minnesota transit as well as $12.5 million in new road funding for towns with populations under 5,000 residents. The transportation bill also includes $5 million for rail safety upgrades, and nearly $1 million to establish two new emergency response teams that will be available in the event of an oil train disaster.
Gov., Senate DFL block House tax reductions
House Republicans passed a $2 billion tax cut bill. However, Senate Democrats would not agree to the tax cuts because the House Republicans would not agree to a gas tax increase. Consequently, the tax cut bill was not agreed upon. The Republican tax cuts would have provided relief by phasing out the state's tax on Social Security, would have provided tax relief for families, veterans, farmers, and would have left approximately $1 billion unspent.
Several bills enacted
At the time I am writing this, Governor Dayton has signed several bills into law, while several other bills wait to be signed into law or be vetoed. Of those that have been signed into law, provisions include the pro-life Born Alive Act, several new pro-Second Amendment changes, and $138 million funding increase for nursing homes/care workers throughout the state.
I would like to thank the great people of Albertville, Hanover, Otsego, Saint Michael, and the Wright County portion of Dayton for all the correspondence provided me throughout the session. I value your feedback and I welcome continued feedback during the legislative interim. Please continue to contact me regarding any issue and let me know if I may be of assistance.
State Rep. District 30B