The Legislative Session came to a dramatic end late last night. Before adjourning sine die at midnight as required by our Constitution, the Legislature rushed massive spending bills to the floor. The bonding bill which totaled $825 Million of debt spending a week ago, showed up in the Senate at 11 pm last night as a different bill number and with a $1.5 Billion price tag. The bill had so much pork in it that it easily won support from several democrats, which was needed for the 3/5 majority threshold to pass.
The debt bill then headed to the Minnesota House floor and was introduced by its new author Rep Tim Miller. No debate occurred. Not a single legislator stood up and argued the bill's merits. So within minutes the clerk opened up the roll call and the bill passed 113 to 17. Only 7 Republicans voted against it.
Following the passage of the massive debt bill, the House took up the pension bailout bill (SF2620). This bill was introduced by its author, and like the debt bill, received no discussion or debate. It passed unanimously in the House, was sent over to the Senate, and received unanimous support in that chamber as well.
One could argue that Republicans last night summoned their inner-Pelosi and "passed a bill so they could see what was in it".
Both these bills were costly to Minnesota taxpayers. The pension bill lacked any significant reforms to the failing pension plan. It uses taxpayer money to bail out government employee's retirement funds. Meanwhile in the private sector, we're on our own when our 401ks under perform.
We've written a lot this session about the problems with the bonding (debt) bills. One can imagine how much worse the bill that doubles in size and is introduced at the last minute makes it.
On Saturday night, the Senate took up the Omnibus Supplemental Spending billat 10:30 pm, only an hour after the conference committee report was available. The bill was 998 pages. Senators debated the bill for an hour, with most Democrats arguing it didn't spend enough money. It ultimately passed with a vote of 35 to 32.
The spending bill then headed to the Minnesota House and debate began in the 1 am hour and lasted to 3 am. Despite its illegality of multiple subjects and its large price tag, the bill passed the Republican controlled house with a vote of 76 to 49.
Now that the session is over, we await Governor Dayton's signature. If he vetoes these bills, there might be a special session this summer. Regardless, there is no lingering government shutdown because all of this spending took place while the government was already fully funded under a two-year budget that passed last year.
Late last night, the Omnibus Supplemental Spending bill(SF3656) emerged from its conference committee and was taken up on the Senate floor. Senators had roughly one hour to read the 990 page bill before the floor debate began. Then, at about 12:15 am, the Senate voted and passed the massive bill that contains multiple subjects and grows government.
The House then began their debate on the bill at about 1:00 am, which lasted until around 3:00 in the morning. Democrats in both chambers argued the unconstitutionality of the multiple subjects (Article 1, Section 17) and pointed to the fact that Governor Dayton will veto the bill. Most Democrats voted against the bill due to the Bernie effect - vote against bills that don't spend enough money.
Seven total Republicans broke party lines to spend against the large spending bill. In the Senate, both Sen Fischbach and Sen Pratt voted no. In the House, Reps Bahr, Drazkowski, Hertaus, Lucero and Munson all opposed the bill.
Action 4 Liberty was against this bill for an onslaught of reasons. First and foremost, after Governor Dayton vetoed the tax conformity bill, we called on the Legislature to not send a single spending bill to the Governor's desk until he signs a new tax bill. Government is operating under a two-year budget that fully funds the agencies, so new spending is not needed.
We also feel its incumbent upon legislators to follow the Constitution which clearly states that a bill must be single subject, and that subject expressly written in the title. Lastly, it's not wise to support legislation that no one reads and is voted on in the middle of the night.
Action 4 Liberty scored this bill.
There's no looming government shutdown. No doom and gloom scenario upcoming. The state government is fully funded and operating under a two-year budget.
So when Governor Mark Dayton used his pen this morning to veto the Legislature's tax conformity bill, he showed Minnesota taxpayers where his true allegiance lies. Instead of approving a bill that will save taxpayers headaches next year during tax time and providing a modest income tax reduction, Mark Dayton wants those same taxpayers across the state to bail out a handful of school districts.
Dayton is representing a perverted view of governance here. He's promoting the view that the government owns your money and should spend it on whatever it deems necessary. This view is in stark contrast to the conservative view of empowering individuals and families to make decisions with their own money.
Action 4 Liberty calls upon Republican legislators to not cave into the demands of Governor Dayton. Do not send a spending bill or bonding bill to Dayton's desk until he signs the tax conformity bill. The only thing that needs to be done this legislative session is to conform to the new federal tax law.
The deadline for passing bills this year is Sunday at midnight. Contact your Republican legislator today and tell him or her to vote against any spending or bonding bill until the tax conformity bill is signed by Governor Dayton.
The Minnesota Senate failed to pass its massive debt bill today that would add $825 Million on the state credit card. HF4404, known as the Capital Investment bill, is a bonding bill that requires a 60% majority in order to pass. The vote was a strict party line vote of 34 to 33, failing to get the 41 needed votes for passage.
Democrats voted against the bill because they didn't think the debt bill was large enough. An amendment was voted down prior to the final vote that would've adopted the projects Governor Dayton wanted to see in a bonding bill. These projects would've brought the bill's final price tag to $1.5 Billion.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding any more debt spending after government spending already grew by 9.5% this biennium. On top of that, the bill was full of pork projects that are wasting tax dollars. The bill was scored on mnscorecard.com.
Governor Dayton is holding Minnesota taxpayers hostage by threatening to veto the Republican tax bill if the Legislature does not provide $138 Million to bail out a handful of school districts around the state. As it stands right now, the only thing necessary for the Legislature and Governor to do this session is to pass a tax conformity bill that would save Minnesota taxpayers severe headaches and money next year when they file their state taxes. Under current law, the state income tax forms do not conform with the new federal forms created with the Trump tax cuts.
The state faces a $329 Million surplus which in part is due to the new federal tax cuts. Both the House and Senate have passed their own tax bills, with the Senate bill ensuring 99% of Minnesotans don't see a tax hike. The two tax bills are currently being worked out in a joint conference committee. The deadline to pass laws is midnight on Sunday.
Dayton's threat is as extreme as it comes. If there is no tax conformity bill, millions of Minnesota tax filers will suffer and pay. Meanwhile, Dayton is asking those same taxpayers to bail out school districts who didn't responsibly manage their own budgets.
Action 4 Liberty believes the Legislature should send Dayton the tax bill immediately and refuse to pass any spending bill until its signed into law. Republicans should not cave to Mark Dayton.
The Republican controlled House passed a massive debt bill today by a vote of 84-39. Only four Republican legislators voted against the $825 Million package that would send our state further into debt, with Rep Jeremy Munson being the only one to speak against the bill on the House floor.
Despite facing a $329 Million budget surplus, Republican legislators have decided to spend the majority of that money and add more spending in the form of debt. Spending projects in the bill range from important infrastructure updates to pork projects that are wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding more debt to the state credit card. Good projects that end up in the bonding bills should be appropriated from the general funds account.
The Minnesota Management & Budget Office released a memoyesterday stating that the state brought in an additional $252 Million more in revenue than projected for the month of April. Revenues are usually high in April due to the tax deadline, but the $2.453 Billion total was 11% more that what was projected in the February forecast used by the Governor and the Legislature in determining budget resources for the legislative session.
Minnesota currently has a fully funded 2-year budget. So any extra revenues by the government signifies that Minnesotans have been overtaxed. Governor Dayton will likely use this report to call for funding of his largest priority: fixing the financial insolvency of several Minnesota school districts.
The big question is what will the Republican legislature do with these numbers? Common sense would suggest that they give all back to Minnesota taxpayers. The tax cut bill in the House only has $107 Million in tax relief; they should make it $359 Million in tax cuts. But the track record of Speaker Daudt is to spend on more government. Contact your legislator today and tell him or her to give it back!
"It's for the children" claim the authors of a bill that passed the Minnesota Senate today. No one is denying that there is a problem in our society with the abuse of opiate drugs, but the Minnesota Senate today thinks government is the solution.
Sen Rosen's bill, SF730, creates a fee for manufacturers of opiate drugs, most commonly used for pain management. It also establishes a new government program tasked to solve the problem of abuse.
The problem with the bill is several fold. Government keeps adding more and more costs to the health care industry, thus creating ever rising prices. Assessing fees to drug companies will eventually be passed on to consumers. That affects anyone who may need to be prescribed pain medications for things ranging from post c-section surgery to chronic joint paint.
Furthermore, if creating government programs to combat drug abuse actually worked, then we wouldn't need to worry about meth, cocaine or heroine. Those drugs have billions of dollars of taxpayer money used to combat them.
Action 4 Liberty opposes increasing taxes and fees or growing the government bureaucracy. We scored the bill today.
A recent economic report indicated that Minnesota is facing a $329 Million budget surplus. The common sense thing to do with a surplus is to return it back to taxpayers who were overcharged. But the Minnesota Legislature has prioritized spending instead of tax cuts. The House wants to spend $222 Million of general funds revenue, while returning only $107 Million in tax relief. In the other chamber, the Senate wants to provide $168 Million in relief while keeping $161 Million in the hands of government.
But this is only a portion of the narrative. There's $58 Million in excess reserves for the Vikings Stadium Fund, that will likely grow to about $100 Million by the end of next year. The MN House wants to use that money for new Veterans homes in Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji.
On top of all that, the House and Senate have released the details of their debt bills (aka bonding). Both chambers want to add $825 Million of debt on the state credit card. These bills include funding for roads, bridges and other key infrastructure. But then add millions of dollars of pork to include:
- $95.4 Million to the University of Minnesota
- $6.5 Million to put solar panels on the University of Mankato and other renovations
- $3 Million for the Minnesota Zoo Garden!
- $1 Million for Amateur sports center in Blaine
- $2.5 Million dollar bus garage in Rochester
- $2 Million dollar pedestrian/Bike bridgein the city of Rogers (pop. 11,000)
- $10 Million to the unelected Met Council to build parks and trails as they want
- $2.5 Million to build facilities for a park on Lake Waconia
- $2 Million for swimming pool in New Hope
- $3 Million Nature Sanctuary Visitor Center
- $4.4 Million White Bear Lake trail around the White Bear Lake
- $18 Million for Brooklyn Park to build a food shelf
- $5 Million for Duluth trails
- $12 Million for Minneapolis to redevelop a Harbor Terminal for the public
- $4.4 Million community center in Perham (pop. 3,000)
- $3 Million for a food shelf in Crookston (pop. 7,900)
- $5 Million St. Paul River Centre parking lot
- $5.5 Million Southeast Asian Language Job Training Facility
- $8.1 Million for Wabasha to expand the Eagle Center
- $5 Million dollar open air stage in Waite Park
- $18 Million to renovate one visitor building (#18) in Fort Snelling
- $26 Million for airports
- $18 Million to expand remote trails at some rural state parks
- $750,000 pedestrian bridge in Grand Rapids
- $6 Million St Paul MN Museum of American Art
- Tens of million in trails:
- $200k for a bluff lands trail by the Iowa border
- $2.5 Million for a Chester Woods trail outside Rochester
- $1.3 Million for a recreation area in Babbitt
- $2.5 Million for third part of a trail in La Crescent
Thanks to Washington County Watchdogs for digging into the details of the bill.
In totality, the fiscal record for the GOP when facing a $329 Million surplus is:
Keep in mind, all of the above spending figures are the GOP proposals. In the last week and a half of the session, Dayton will negotiate with the Legislature and the final numbers will likely be $400 - 600 Million higher.
The Minnesota Senate voted unanimously for a bill authored by Sen Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) that would expand regulations on the hotel industry. The bill, SF3637, requires "every person, firm, or corporation that operates a hotel or motel in Minnesota" to receive sex trafficking training "approved by the Commissioner" within 90 days of employment.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding new government regulations on the private sector, especially ones that increase the cost of doing business. Companies should be free to create and conduct their own sex trafficking training.
The bill also fails the constitutional test of "single subject" as it contains language about immunization documentation and reporting of autism spectrum. For these stated reasons, Action 4 Liberty scored the bill.