By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 5/30/2018
Hello from St. Paul,
There’s good news and bad news to report from St. Paul as Governor Dayton has taken action on compromise legislation approved by the Minnesota House and Senate.
Unfortunately the bad news is pretty bad. Governor Dayton vetoed two major pieces of legislation, the supplemental budget bill and a proposal that provided funding for our schools, instituted tax relief and conformed state and federal tax laws.
On the taxes side of the equation, tax conformity was critical this session because when the federal government approved new tax laws, Minnesota needed to adjust its state income tax policies in order to match up with the new guidelines. The plan also provided the first tax rate cut in 20 years, which would have benefited millions of Minnesotans. With the veto all of that is gone, plus filing your income taxes next year is expected to be more difficult, and it’s now estimated that roughly 300,000 Minnesotans will actually face tax increases because of this decision.
Schools also took a hit. Our proposal provided up to $225 million to assist school districts statewide, which resulted in well over $1 million lost for Hastings and South Washington County.
Our supplemental budget plan would have prevented a 7% cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System, which impacts people with disabilities and their caretakers. Special education and Head Start students, people in need of mental health support; opioid addiction victims; and deputy registrars whose businesses are floundering due to the MNLARS mess are among those who will also suffer from the governor’s decision. Unfortunately, my provision that addresses school lunch shaming was included in the bill the governor vetoed. This is an issue I feel very strongly about so I intend to continue working on it in the future.
The vetoes are difficult for me to comprehend, especially since the bills passed with bipartisan support and the governor couldn’t really give any significant reasons why he made the moves. Also keep in mind these bills included a number of provisions he fought for, and that the Legislature addressed, eliminated, or altered 70% of other concerns he had with our proposals. I fear these vetoes were nothing more than political gamesmanship, which is the type of action that makes most Minnesotans cringe.
On the brighter side, the governor did sign into law our capital investment proposal. This includes $178 million in asset preservation, some of which will be utilized at the Hastings Veterans Home. Also included was funding for my proposal that will help create the Health and Emergency Response Occupations (HERO) Center proposal in Washington County, as well as the Dakota County SMART Center.
The governor also signed a bill that addresses the $850 million settlement between 3M and the State of Minnesota, which will help ensure the funds are used only in the East Metro in order to keep our drinking water clean.
Though this legislative session ended with some ups and downs, I’m pleased with the success stories that were brought forward during my first term as your state representative. Whether it was historic tax relief for the middle class and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to transportation at the state level, or protecting Highway 316 speed limits in Hastings and providing guardrails for 3M settlement dollars at the local level, we made good progress in a number of areas.
In other news, it was great to see many of you at our local Memorial Day events. I was pleased to attend the Hastings Veterans Home flag ceremony, a Memorial Day service, and a wreath ceremony in Hastings Monday morning. I also attended Cottage Grove’s Memorial Day service later that afternoon. That was followed by a return to Hastings to greet the dozens of individuals who braved 100 degree heat to walk 28 miles from Red Wing to Hastings as part of their Memorial Day March for Them.
These events were not only terrific but touching, and it was a privilege to be in attendance. Hats off to all of the organizers who spent countless hours planning these ceremonies, reminding us that freedom isn’t free and honoring those men and women who paid the ultimate price.
Talk to you soon,
Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155