Dear Friends and Neighbors,
For those of you who will be out fishing Saturday morning for the opener, best of luck and stay safe!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in our area and around the state. My mom has passed on but I am celebrating my wonderful daughters-in-law who are loving moms to my grandchildren! Be sure to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to a mom in your life.
Before your weekend, here’s on update on where things currently stand at the Capitol.
Conference Committee/Budget Negotiations
May 20th is the adjournment date for the 2019 legislative session, meaning a little over a week remains for us to get our work done on time. This week, work in conference committee for the various budget areas got underway. Conference committee is the negotiating process in which lawmakers from the House and Senate work out the differences in their respective budget bills. Once members of each body and party agree on the legislation, the bills are again debated, voted on, and sent to the governor for his signature or veto.
This session, however, conference committees have been unable to do much work because the governor, House DFL majority, and Senate Republican majority have been unable to agree on spending targets for the budget. Once they’ve agreed on total spending numbers, conference committees will have a clearer picture of how much money can be spent in each area, and will then be able to better work towards an agreement.
So far, I’ve been disappointed by the governor and House Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise during budget negotiations. I talked about this in my video update this week that you can view here. Democrats have refused to compromise a single penny of their $12 billion tax increases, which includes the 20-cent per gallon gas tax hike. They have proposed reducing spending by $200 million in their budget plan but, in a nearly $50 billion proposed budget, that isn’t much of a compromise as it works out to less than half a percent decrease. As you’ve heard from me before, there’s no need to raise taxes by $12 billion (including higher taxes on gas and healthcare) when Minnesota has a budget surplus north of $1 billion.
Legislative leaders will be sharing a boat with the Governor during the Governor’s Fishing Opener weekend so there is hope that getting away from the Capitol will lend some better perspective to the negotiations. Following the opener, formal negotiations will resume and will need to move rapidly in order to produce a budget plan for the conference committees that provides needed funding but doesn’t bury taxpayers.
Except Wednesday, floor sessions were held every day this week to pass policy bills that are moving separately from the budget bills being conferenced. Yesterday we held a joint session with the Senate to vote on the appointment of four regents to the board of the University of Minnesota. This is a process that is, in my view, more complicated than it needs to be, but I'm glad we were able to come to an agreement as it was looking for a time like this task was going to be passed on to the Governor. When the dust settled, the regents appointed to six year terms were Mike Kenyanya (from UMD) as the student regent, Janie Mayeron as the regent from the Fifth Congressional District and Mary Davenport and Kao Ly Ilean Her as Regents At Large. For more information on this year's regent selection, click here.
Grace House Director Ron Oleheiser was at the Capitol Monday for the Homes for All rally.
Please Contact Me
As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I value your input and enjoy hearing from you.
Have a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms!