Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It appears a Memorial Day weekend filled with sunshine and warm temperatures is ahead of us. As we enjoy the weather and other activities, it’s important to take some time to honor and remember the many brave Americans who have laid down their lives for our nation’s freedom. We must never forget their sacrifices.
Sunday night, the legislature adjourned, concluding the 2018 session. Legislators sent a compromise tax conformity and education funding bill, a bonding bill, a supplemental bill and a pension bill to Govenor Dayton's desk for consideration. These bills built on last year’s tremendous accomplishments, including middle-class tax relief, the largest investment in roads and bridges in state history without a gas tax increase, and key reforms to help lower health care costs for Minnesota families.
First, the tax conformity and education package was a sincere effort to find compromise with the governor and pass the top priorities of both the governor and House Republicans. The federal conformity plan that we advanced protected taxpayers, simplified Minnesota's tax code, and provided the first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years. With historic tax reform passed by Congress in December, we understood the importance of passing conformity so folks filing their taxes next year won’t face undue complications. The bill also made available more than $225 million to help students—almost $100 million more than what the governor requested, providing new money and additional flexibility for school districts to address budget shortfalls.
In the supplemental budget bill, House and Senate Republicans compromised with the governor—nearly 70 percent of the objections raised by the governor were removed or amended, meeting him more than halfway. The bill contained shared priorities like ensuring safe schools, repairing roads and bridges, tackling the opioid epidemic, protecting aging and vulnerable adults, and preventing a cut to the wages of those who care disabled Minnesotans. The package also contained the public safety legislation I worked on this year, which would protect law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, crack down on dangerous sex offenders (including closing a bus driver background check loophole), and devote resources to protecting children.
Unfortunately, on Wednesday afternoon, the governor vetoed both of those bills, meaning none of these great things can happen this year. These vetoes are extremely disappointing, as they will have far-reaching effects that will negatively impact millions of Minnesotans. These bills contained a host of critically important provisions, and it’s unfortunate that countless Minnesotans will now suffer and be left to face the consequences of this politicized move.
Here is a list of some of the groups of people that will be negatively impacted by the vetoes.
I am still hopeful that the governor will act positively on the infrastructure-heavy, geographically balanced bonding bill we sent him. The majority of funding is dedicated to brick-and-mortar projects, such as roads and bridges, water infrastructure and statewide asset preservation. In addition, the bonding bill includes $32 million for the construction of new veterans homes in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston, as well as $10 million to renovate existing homes.
Even with the governor’s vetoes, the last two sessions have been some of the most productive in recent memory. I will continue to advocate for the people and priorities of our communities, and am optimistic the legislature will again tackle many of these important issues next session.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4346 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,