As others see it: Tax, bonding, health care need special session
As the GOP's legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton discuss a December special session, the debate seems to center around whether a special session will provide a political advantage to one party or the other or whether legislators and the governor should do their job and complete critical unfinished business.
We vote for completing unfinished business.
The nature of a special session pushes leaders to get things done. There’s no time to posture and hold a lot of press conferences. Set the agenda, debate the issues and take a vote.
The topics for a special session have never been so close to being resolved. That’s another reason to move forward. The tax bill that provided relief to small-town businesses, farmers and even students with smothering loan debt passed with strong bipartisan support. We can give Dayton the benefit of a doubt that his legal team felt a drafting error could cost the state $100 million. But now, we need to fix the drafting error and pass the bill. Simple as that.
Bonding also had much bipartisan support. A nearly $1 billion bonding bill was passed with broad support but got hung up on what seems to be the issue of allowing the metro area to fund metro transit plans. That’s an ideological argument the GOP should drop.
And finally, both Dayton and the GOP agreed some relief needed to be provided to those who buy health insurance on the individual market where premiums are rising 50 percent to 60 percent.
With these three areas of broad agreement, a special session decision should not be this difficult.
The Mankato area and almost every region of the state would benefit from resolution on these issues. Many small towns in outstate Minnesota were relying on the bonding bill to shore up ailing wastewater treatment plants that were going to resolve the water quality issues Gov. Dayton has said he wants addressed.
The tax bill that failed to pass included $20 million for Local Government Aid to cities in Minnesota, many of whom will pass property tax increases to make up for the loss. The bonding bill provided some $133 million in a grant program that cities could access to repair and upgrade wastewater treatment facilities.
Thousands of college students in Mankato and around the state would benefit from a new student loan tax credit.
These issues will likely be lost in a new session. The politics have changed. And a divided government has just not proven how it can get things done given the legislative process that is flawed with missed deadlines during the regular session.
We urge the GOP legislative leadership and Gov. Mark Dayton to agree to a special session in December to resolve these issues. And if the leaders don’t seem receptive to this idea, we urge local legislators of both parties to push their leaders for the session that would resolve issues directly and significantly impacting their constituents.