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Little to show as legislative session ends

After last year’s legislative session, one had hopes that Minnesota’s DFL governor and its Republican-controlled Legislature would learn to compromise more and make a bipartisan effort to pass effective tax and budget bills.
One also knew that hope was probably hollow at best — our state leaders seem to have little desire to let go of their staunch positions and try to work out an agreement.
But one cannot help but be particularly disappointed in Gov. Dayton. Although the Republican-proposed tax and budget bills did have some of the issues that Dayton supported, he still vetoed them, accusing Republicans of cozying up to big corporations while Republicans accused him of scrapping a tax-cut plan that would have benefited Minnesotans.
Although the bills did contain some of Dayton’s desires, the Legislature tweaked some of the funding mechanisms. Dayton wanted money to help combat the opioid addiction crisis, and the Republicans were willing to dedicate $16 million in state funds toward that effort. However, Dayton wanted the funding to come from a per-pill tax or fee on the drugs themselves. That would have worked great if drug companies would have been willing to eat that cost, but we all know they would have simply passed the extra cost along to patients, adding salt to the wound, so to speak.
The governor also wanted a one-time appropriation of $138 million to help school districts who are facing budget crises. But, as we have pointed out before, that is a band-aid approach and not a long-term solution. It is merely kicking the can down the road another year. Republicans, meanwhile, were willing to allow school districts to access $225 million from existing state accounts that support teaching training and community education. That, too, is not a long-term solution. As the governor pointed out, it is equivalent of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
The governor did, however, sign off on the bonding bill, which is good news for cities like Glencoe, which has been looking for some financial help for its wastewater treatment plant improvements.
As one may recall from a couple of years ago, the failure to pass a bonding bill meant that cities like Stewart were unable to obtain Public Facility Authority and other funding to make some much-needed infrastructure improvements.
All in all, it has been another disappointing legislative session in which a Democratic governor couldn’t accept the fact that the Legislature was in control of the Republicans. And, again, it has left a sour taste in the mouths of Minnesotans.
It’s an election year. One hopes that candidates will emerge who will put statesmanship in front of party politics. Otherwise, we will once again see very little coming out of our Legislature.