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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Enactment of bonding bill caps highly productive biennium

Friday, June 1, 2018

By Rep. Dean Urdahl

As chairman of the House Capital Investment Committee, the 2018 session didn’t really end for me until the governor acted on the bonding bill we presented him on May 20, just prior to adjournment.

That bill ended up being the exclamation point on what has been a rather productive biennium, with the governor enacting our capital investment package with $825 million in general obligation bonding, along with other funding mechanisms adding up to $1.5 billion total. A $25 million infusion from our flourishing budget reserves to help school districts make safety improvements is one example of the latter I am pleased to have included. The bill also provides $541 million for roads and bridges, with $416 million coming from trunk highway bonds.

Funding for work in District 18A includes $5 million for an Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District Elementary School re-purposing and $100,000 for continued restoration of the Litchfield Opera House.

It is disappointing the governor’s vetoes of some other bills – particularly a supplemental budget package and tax conformity/school funding bill will have damaging consequences to many Minnesotans. His decisions include:

  • Vetoing funding for special education, which will cause a $36 million cut.
  • Vetoing funding to restore a 7-percent cut to employees who take care of the disabled.
  • Vetoing money to combat the opioid epidemic and reforms to help vulnerable adults.
  • Vetoing funding for new road and bridge construction.
  • Vetoing money for rural broadband expansion.

Legislators addressed nearly 70 percent of the specific concerns outlined by the governor late in the session and provided up to $84 million in new funding for schools – $225 million in total when flexibility measures are added – to go more than halfway in meeting the governor on his key priorities and concerns.

The good news is these veto actions by the governor can in no way diminish the major accomplishments we previously achieved this biennium. The 2017 session featured the largest tax cut in nearly two decades, including a reduction on Social Security taxes for seniors. We also delivered the largest investment in roads and bridges in state history without a gas tax increase, major funding boosts for education, and reforms to lower health care costs and boost health care choices for Minnesota families.

The governor’s term will expire in January and the next person to take that office will be a reasonable negotiator. I look forward to continuing my work to help the people of Minnesota in that new, more productive environment.

It is an honor to continue representing the people of District 18A and I look forward to continuing discussions with constituents during these months the Legislature is not in session.