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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Brian Johnson (R)

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End of Session Legislative Update

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2014 legislative session has concluded, and I would like to give you an update on some of bills passed at the end of session.

Bonding Bill

The second year of a biennium is usually considered a bonding year—when the state borrows money for infrastructure and building projects.

This year, there were two bills passed that dedicated money to infrastructure and building projects across Minnesota. There was a cash bill which spent approximately $200 million and a bonding bill which borrows and spends another $846 million.

These bills in total spent over $1 billion dollars and unfortunately, there was not a strong enough emphasis on Minnesota’s infrastructure needs. Instead the bill wasted taxpayer dollars on things like snow making equipment, theaters and convention centers.

Here are some of the highlights of the spending bills:


  • $126.3 million for the continuation of Capitol Restoration
  • $55.395 million for Minneapolis, St. Paul projects (Brian Coyles Center, Hennepin Center for the Arts, Nicollet Mall, Children’s Museum, Palace Theater, Ordway, TPT Building Renovations, Sculpture Garden)
  • $38.613 million for roads and bridges


  • $50.743 million for roads and bridges
  • $22 million for Lewis and Clark Regional Water System
  • $11.56 million for St. Cloud Convention Center
  • $6.95 million for NorShor Theatre in Duluth
  • $3.4 million for snow making equipment in Duluth

Supplemental Spending Bill

Another bill that ended the session was a supplemental spending bill which increases state government spending by $262.73 million in this biennium and another $842.34 million in fiscal years 2016-17.

With so many projects and spending initiatives in this bill, it is not surprise that the bad far outweighs the good. For every positive provision like increased funding for K12 there is a negative provision like a costly bailout of Obamacare in Minnesota.

My Republican colleagues and I pushed earlier this session for a more sensible bill that spent additional dollars wisely while limiting unnecessary waste. Unfortunately, that was voted down in the House and taxpayers are left with a bill filled with government waste and bureaucracy.

Second Omnibus Tax Bill

The legislature also ended session by passing a second omnibus tax bill which remedies more of last year’s mistakes when taxes and fees were unnecessarily increased by $2.4 billion.

The bill passed unanimously in the House and includes $103 million in tax deductions for fiscal years 2014-15. One of the largest provisions in this bill is the increased agricultural homestead market value credit.

While this was another positive step for Minnesota taxpayers, there is still more to be done.

Pay Raises for Politicians

The end of this session also saw the legislature placing a constitutional amendment to voters in 2016. I strongly opposed this because it will lead to an unelected board raising legislative salaries.

The question placed to voters will be misleading, asking voters if legislators should no longer be able to set their own salaries. While this sounds good on paper, what it actually means is that an outside board can raise politicians’ salaries and legislators will not be accountable to your for their salary increases.  

People may think that legislators are raising their salaries every year, but in truth they have not been raised since 1999. This amendment will take money out of the general fund for important things like education and health care, and instead put it toward legislator salaries.

After voting for a new lavish senate office building earlier this session, it is clear that Democrats continue to put self service before public service. They now want more of your taxpayer money for a pay raise.

Please know that even though this session has ended, I am still available to you should you ever need assistance on a matter of state government. It has been a true honor to represent you in Saint Paul for the past two years, and I will continue to fight for you at the Capitol.

Thank you for the privilege of being your state representative.