Legislative Session Likely to End with a Whimper

With eighteen days left in the 2016 legislative session the endpoint looks murky at best. Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown) always ready with the one-liners, which are most often pure platitudes, said on Monday, “We’re going to eat our vegetables before we have our dessert this session.”  The problem this is a Bonding Session and a Capitol Investment Bill is not dessert it’s the main course, it’s the meat and the potatoes along with a side of vegetables. When one looks at the Houses proposed Bonding Bill at $600 million, which no one has yet seen, it is a Cream Puff Bonding Bill, which by comparison means is a confection made up of mostly air.

Today, the Senate failing to pass its bonding bill, due to lack of Republican support, and with the House not yet to offering up one of their own, Republicans own the term obstructionist. In the House the DFL Minority understands a few simple facts; they will not bail out the Republican Majority and pass their bill for them. The failure to deliver a Bonding Bill and that burden will be shouldered by Republicans legislators across the state. The inability to do the only think they are supposed to do in passing a Bonding Bill will be hard to explain away.

When we view the Senate’s Capital Investment Bill we questioned the $390 million for transportation, which could be a one-time expenditure, and learned it was called for by the House. Since the Senate is lining up their bill to placate the House is seems unclear as to why they demand something and then fail to follow through.

In spite of Speaker Daudt’s statewide ongoing pledge not to fund the Southwest Corridor, the needs in transit have unexpected advocates in the business community both the MN Chamber of Commerce and the MN Business Partnership are calling for funding to improve the transit hub at the Mall of America, mainly in advance of the 2018 Super Bowl. There is also some logic in providing money for the transit stop on 35W prior to major repair of the 35W because to do so afterwards will only cost more money to retrofit, rather than make it part of the original redesign.

We have said before the state needs a Deferred Maintenance Bonding Bill to best meet the unmet needs and address the items which have been put off for far too long. In the Higher Education request they call this HEAPR (Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renovation). Traditionally, Higher Ed makes up 30% of a Capital Investment Bill, but because the needs are so high in all areas, they fall far short.  There are significant needs from various departments including DNR, PCA and Corrections. The Senate Bill doesn’t even follow the MNSCU system’s list of priorities.

The dogmatic adherence to dividing the current $898 million budget surplus and dedicating the bulk to tax cuts and transportation is unadulterated crapola. The reason is the surplus is one-time money and if the House Republicans want to apply any to tax cuts that are not just one-time there incur fiscal tails for the next year’s budget. So the big Republican lie is the tax cuts as proposed mean the majority of the surplus must pay for the tails and that leaves an expenditure of only $450 million.

We believe largely the current support staff in the House are mere political animals, focused each vote and its impact in targeted races for the November election. The reason we believe nothing will get done is because the brilliant minds in the House Caucus led by Ben Golnik are unable to see beyond electoral politics.

If the House Republicans need a simple statement to understand their role, someone who even a Donald Trump voter can understand, lets quote Larry the Cable Guy, “Git ‘Er Done.”

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