Hello from the State Capitol,
Now that the 2012 Legislative Session is history and the dust has settled, I thought that I would review this session.
The $496 million bonding bill is meant to meet statewide construction needs. Some think we should have had a larger bill, however, we had a $500 million bonding bill last year as part of an agreement to end the state government shutdown.
I would have preferred to see more money spent on projects more appropriate for bonding – roads, bridges, flood mitigation – however there were several worthwhile proposals included in this year’s bill.
Along with money for dredging Lake Zumbro, there’s $44 million to restore the Minnesota State Capitol, which after more than 100 years is in dire need of repair. $46 million will be used on road and bridge projects, $15 million will go towards wastewater treatment facilities, and $6 million will be used for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program.
Following the bonding agreement, House leadership decided to take one last attempt at approving the Tax Relief and Jobs Creation Act. Vetoed earlier this month by Governor Dayton, the “Act 2” version of the bill was trimmed down slightly but still contained many of the proposals that were popular in the original bill, such as the Veterans Jobs Tax Credit; allowing small businesses to take an upfront sales tax exemption on capital equipment purchases; and increasing funds to investment and research credit programs. But alas to no avail, for once again the Governor Dayton vetoed it even though it would have created many thousands of jobs.
I am extremely disappointed we failed in our attempts to allow more Minnesotans to keep a larger portion of their paychecks and put more people to work.
I have learned these past two years, you don’t always get what you want, no matter how sensible or bipartisan the legislation may be. I was able to get eleven bills that I chief authored into law, but had ten vetoes on others. Several dozen bills that I co-authored became law also. Governor Dayton learned that the Legislature would not fold to his wish to raise taxes on Minnesotans.
Even though you would have had to look hard in the media, we did find compromise on many bills. We found a solution to a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall, (without a billion dollar job killing tax increase), and we have filled our cash flow and budget reserve accounts.
We held to present levels of Local Government Aid, with the exception that many towns with 5,000 residents or less will receive an increase (LGA was meant for small towns that did not have a the tax base to cover part of their expenses). We made our permitting process much easier for those looking to expand their businesses. We made changes to help control the spread of Asian carp. We addressed welfare fraud and abuse. Oh yes we even, for better or for worse, finally ended the decade old Vikings stadium debate.
If anyone says nothing was accomplished at the Legislature, it simply is not true. The facts prove otherwise, as 242 bills were signed into law – over 180 of them in the past few months.
Was this session smooth or did it end perfectly? No. But was this session productive, and is Minnesota in a better place than it was a year and a half ago? That answer is a resounding yes!
Talk to you soon,