Minnesota Lawmakers (Finally) Head Home
St. Paul, MN (Learfield Wire Services/TTWN Media Networks) - Lawmakers finished their work on the state budget around 3 o’clock this morning, adjourned the special session and went home.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt says Republicans accomplished what they set out to accomplish, including “the largest amount of tax relief in 20 years…. We have a historic amount of road and bridge money…. In fact, it’s the largest transportation increase without a gas tax [increase] in state history.” Republicans and Governor Mark Dayton both wanted to spend more money than is in the transportation budget, but couldn’t agree how to pay for it.
House Democratic Minority Leader Melissa Hortman says, “With Republicans in control of the House and the Senate, these may be the best budgets we’re able to get through.” Hortman says the health and human services budget the legislature passed in the final hours of the special session is “really a cruel bill” and will hurt elderly people and those with disabilities.
The Minnesota Legislature, just before adjourning, also passed a 988-million-dollar bonding bill for state public works projects — a replacement for the bill that failed one year ago. D-F-L Representative Alice Hausman from Saint Paul says she’s never seen a bonding bill pass so fast and so overwhelmingly: “And what that tells you is, we all worked together. It’s fair to all, everybody’s reflected in this bill, and so the support is broad.”
There’s $120 million dollars in the bonding bill for the U-of-M, including $66 million for a health sciences education facility. Minnesota State colleges and universities get $92 million dollars. There’s $254 million dollars for transportation projects, including rail crossing upgrades in Moorhead and Red Wing. $70 million dollars goes for upgrades at the state Security Hospital in Saint Peter, $15 million for the Duluth steam plant, and $12 million for a miners memorial on the Iron Range. The bonding bill designates $117 million dollars for water and sewer projects around the state, including three-and-a-half million for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System in southwest Minnesota.
The bill authorizes $1.25-million for the Rochester reading center and $2.5-million for the airport expansion and renovation project. Also included is $2.5-million for work at RCTC, which is far short of what was requested.
Also included in the bill is $500,000 for Oronoco’s wastewater infrastructure plan, $4-million for the Lanesboro dam repair project and $25-million for the Education Village at Winona State University.