Governor Dayton Sets Demands for Special Session

Governor Mark Dayton (DFL) held a press conference Wednesday to lay out his demands for a special session.  In a letter to Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt (R), House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL), Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL) and Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R), Governor Dayton insists that his demands be agreed upon in writing by all four addressees prior to the special session.

Dayton demands significant transportation improvements, stating, “Before I call a Special Session, I believe it is essential for the Senate and House to first revise and reconcile the transportation sections of the bonding bills, which previously passed their respective bodies.”

Dayton hints at mass transit funding, stating, “This reconciliation must include funding for metropolitan transit. Metro highways are already overcrowded. The additional 750,000 people, who are expected to inhabit this region in the next twenty-five years, will be forced onto impossibly congested highways, if sufficient bus, bus rapid transit, and light-rail alternatives are not developed.”

Dayton also requires changes to the omnibus tax bill.  One of the changes requested is due to an error in the bill regarding charitable gaming taxes.  The other is in regards to the Minnesota State High School League’s tax exemption.  In his letter Dayton explains, “I also insist that the Minnesota State High School League’s Tax Exemption be permanently reinstated at a cost to the General Fund of $800,000 in FY17 and $1.7 million in FY18-19.”

The rest of Dayton’s bonding requirements can be seen here.  Some of the projects Dayton is demanding include $21 million in FY17 and $42 million in FY18-19 for MnSCU operating support, $66.7 million for a Health Sciences Education Facility and the University of Minnesota, and $34 million for a Fort Snelling visitor’s center.  All projects must also be agreed upon by all legislative leaders prior to Dayton agreeing to call a special session.

In a penned response to Governor Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt says he agrees to the omnibus tax bill changes, but did not explicitly say what else he will and will not support further. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen fired back, stating, “Minnesotans are frustrated that the legislature did not get the job done. Yet instead of taking any responsibility, Speaker Daudt continues to play the blame game. Minnesotans are tired of excuses. They want results.”

Thissen went on to say, “We are supportive of Governor Dayton’s parameters for a special session and agree that we should work to reach consensus on a long-term transportation package. That was everyone’s top priority heading in to session and it would be a failure if the House Republicans walked away from a compromise.”

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