Minnesota Legislative Update as of May 1, 2017

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A bi-weekly update, compliments of the Public Affairs Office, House Republican Caucus:

  • Budget --Legislative leaders announced joint budget targets on April 28, with a goal respecting taxpayers while investing in key middle-class priorities like tax relief and road and bridge infrastructure.  Highlights from the budget target announcement:

  • $1.15 billion in tax relief
  • $372 million in new funding for road and bridge infrastructure
  • $1.14 billion in new funding for K-12 schools over the current biennium
  • an overall budget target that ensures a sustainable level of state spending for the next biennium

Lawmakers met the April 28th deadline requested by Governor Dayton in a letter to the legislature this March. Although Gov. Dayton subsequently backed away from his deadline, legislators decided to honor the Governor’s request by agreeing to one set of budget targets to reflect the position of the legislature.

  • Public Budget Negotiations -- By the end of April, Conference committee members had already been meeting for two weeks.  They had repeatedly urged Governor Dayton and his commissioners to engage and begin negotiating compromises, to no avail.   On April 28, Speaker Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Gazelka publicly requested all three parties (Governor, Senate and House) come to the table and reach agreement on three-way budget targets by Thursday, May 4th.

  • The legislature is focused on avoiding the last-minute lawmaking which has occurred during every budget session of Governor Dayton’s tenure.

    • Note:  GOP Senate leaders said they will start talks on May 4 with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on the state's higher education and agriculture bills. Republican leaders say they are looking to negotiate early with the governor to avoid vetoes.

  • Bonding --The House on May 1 unveiled a capital investment package which overwhelmingly focuses on bricks-and-mortar projects, including transportation and water infrastructure as well as asset preservation. Overall, more than 80 percent of the projects funded in the House bill – $486 million of $600 million total– pertain to roads and bridges, clean water infrastructure and maintaining state facilities. The infrastructure breakdown includes $240.2 million for transportation work, $139.8 million for water-related projects and $106 million for facilities preservation.

“It is challenging to assemble a bill which both respects the taxpayers and also upholds our infrastructural obligations, ”House Capital Investment Committee Chairman Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, stated.  “That is exactly what this bill accomplishes.”

All of these projects were visited and vetted over the last two years. The focus is squarely on improving our state’s infrastructure, sticking with the priorities during what is, by definition, not a bonding year. This is the first step in our process to get projects rolling. The House Capital Investment Committee will hear the bill on May 3. Senate Republicans have a $972 million bonding bill that has already worked through their committee process.

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