Hello from St. Paul,
With roughly two weeks remaining in session, joint House/Senate conference committees continue to meet in hopes of finding common ground in budget bills for the State of Minnesota.
I currently serve on the transportation finance conference committee. We have been meeting every day, and three times last week. Each day numerous items are agreed to, but numerous major issues – including all of the House Democrat tax increase proposals – remain undecided. As it stands today, the Democrat chairs of this conference committee are working with each other and the Governor’s Office to try and find common ground. Unfortunately, even though I am a member of the conference committee, as a minority member, I am not privy to these discussions.
Session must end on May 22, but the House majority leader claims we will be finished with our work next Thursday, so something’s got to give.
Despite the slow progress overall, a few conference committee reports were debated on the House floor. One was the veterans and military affairs finance bill, a proposal I was pleased to support. It included a number of Republican-sponsored provisions, including changes to the veterans’ bonus program and staffing for three new veterans homes across the state. It was nice to have a nonpartisan bill in front of us and I was happy to vote yes.
Nearly 15 years ago, Minnesotans voted to raise taxes on themselves in order to dedicate funding to projects relating to clean water, habitat, parks and trails and our arts and cultural heritage. Known as Legacy funding, the House and Senate have agreed to a compromise that fulfills the requirement of allocating these existing resources over the next two years.
I did not originally support the plan when it was voted off the House floor. Since then, a number of questionable provisions have been removed, including shipping grant money to controversial organizations.
In exchange, this led to more funding opportunities for clean water and protecting our natural resources. I thought the plan was good for our communities and our state.
Stay tuned for more budget updates as we enter the home stretch here at the Capitol.
Happy Mother’s Day!