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As Others See It: A crack of cooperation in St. Paul

Just when you thought the Democrats and Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature and in the governor’s office couldn’t get together or agree on anything, news broke last week from St. Paul that a bill not only was passed but actually was signed into law, the first such achievement of the 2017 legislative session. ...

But bipartisan agreement is still bipartisan agreement and no guaranteed easy feat in these days of division in St. Paul. So let’s let the measure mark a moment of optimism in the early days of a legislative session chock full of real need for agreeing and cooperating across party lines — and even within the parties. ...

It certainly was a great way to start. The tax bill was approved unanimously by the Republican-controlled House and Senate before winning the signature of DFLer Dayton. It brings the state in line with the federal tax code. The agreement came in time for this year’s tax-filing season. It promises to benefit some 200,000 Minnesotans, including 70,000 teachers who buy classroom supplies and now stand to get some reimbursement. And its $21 million in tax cuts may only be a beginning as Dayton and Republican legislative leaders have promised more financial relief for Minnesotans.

Also, unlike last year’s tax bill, this one didn’t include tax cuts for tobacco companies.

As long as the governor and lawmakers suddenly seem to be working so well together, they can commit to looking past party lines again to promptly pass a bonding bill they failed to get done last year, even though it was a bonding bill year and, really, the original intent of even holding a session in an even-numbered year. ... Lawmakers and the governor also can work together on long-term transportation funding, another holdover issue from last year. And they can provide as much as $300 million in relief to some 120,000 Minnesotans facing financial ruin via skyrocketing health insurance premium increases on the individual market.

The governor and lawmakers also can remember their number-one task this session. They have until the end of May to agree on a two-year state budget to prevent a government shutdown. ...

More than four months and plenty of work remain in the 2017 session. Minnesotans expect their elected leaders to work together, to compromise, and to get their work done, for the good of the state as a whole. Lawmakers showed they can do it. Now they can keep doing it.

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