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Column: Good work derailed by governor’s vetoes


LUVERNE — Now that the dust has settled on the 2018 legislative session, I wanted to provide you with an update about some of the notable things that happened this year. During this shortened session, the legislature narrowed its focus to a handful of issues, such as a tax conformity bill, a bonding bill and a supplemental budget bill that funded some of our most crucial bipartisan priorities.

Regrettably, the governor chose to veto each of those bills except the bonding bill.

I received an email recently from somebody who accused the legislature of deliberately constructing bills to get the governor to veto them. I want to assure you this is absolutely not the case. I don’t believe anyone, regardless of political affiliation, has the goal of passing legislation just to get it vetoed. We have only one intention: to pass policies that will help Minnesota families.

The reality is the governor’s decisions will cause harm and hardship to a lot of people, including K-12 students, victims of elder abuse, victims of opioid addiction, victims of distracted driving, special education or Head Start students, everyone dealing with the MNLARS mess, people with mental health struggles, farmers, residents of Greater Minnesota without high speed internet access, college students, people with disabilities and those who care for them, low income families who collect federal child care subsidies and much, much more.

In particular, the governor’s veto of the tax conformity bill means Minnesota’s tax laws do not align with changes made by the federal government last December. What does that mean for you? Well, it means that filing your returns next year will be more complicated, more time consuming and more costly!

It also means you could end up paying higher taxes. Under the bill the governor vetoed, 99.8 percent of Minnesota taxpayers would have seen reductions or been held harmless. Instead, nearly 1 million people — almost 37 percent of taxpayers — will end up paying more!

The governor also vetoed funding that would help make our schools safer. This has become a major issue throughout the country, and Republicans were mindful of the urgency this year. Between the supplemental budget bill and the tax conformity bill, the legislature allocated $78 million to keep children safe at school.

School districts would have had a great amount of flexibility to determine the most effective way to use this money where it would do the most good, including physical improvements to their buildings, hiring more security personnel, or adding school counselors and psychologists to help students work through mental health struggles.

Unfortunately, schools are losing out thanks to the governor’s decision.

There was some good news to come out of this session: we passed a number of reforms to make it easier for child care providers to stay in business, including a bill I carried to give providers more flexibility on things like staffing, reduce regulatory burdens and provide more transparency. This will help ease the daycare shortage that is crushing so many of our communities.

We also passed a significant bonding bill focused on critical statewide infrastructure, such as road and bridge improvements, sewer and water infrastructure, safe schools, asset preservation, veterans and more.

While the governor’s vetoes were disappointing, we will come back and keep working on these issues next year. I am optimistic the next governor will be more willing to work with the legislature to advance Minnesota to all that it can be.