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July 15, 2019

6/12/2019 10:26:00 AM
The 2019 session delivered compromise and a workable plan

As the end of the 2019 Special Session is reviewed, I believe that there were important accomplishments achieved by the Legislature, in general, and the Senate, in particular.
These accomplishments are both things that happened as well as those that did not happen.
Things avoided
First, what didn't happen?
• No tax increases - gas tax or otherwise; no tab fee increases.
• Governor Walz's proposed cuts to rural nursing homes was stopped. Had it made it through, the combination of state and federal medicaid together with billing changes would have cost nursing homes over $200 million.
• We stopped the governor from taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the road and bridge fund we had put in place in 2017.
• We kept a large amount of new policy out which would have created numerous unfunded mandates on schools, local units of government, etc.
Things approved
What did happen?
• The first permanent income tax reduction in nearly 20 years with a middle income tax cut from 7.05% to 6.8%.
• Education formula increase of 2%, plus 2% for the biennium; special education funding and money for safe schools; farm-to-school credit increases.
• Over $275 million additional added to new money from two years ago for roads and bridges. In addition, the failed MNLARS license program has been scrapped and we will start anew.
• $40 million additional for rural broadband expansion.
• 2% provider tax was reduced by 10%. Walls were built around it to keep it from being used to build up funding for government provided health insurance.
• LGA & CPA funding for cities and counties was increased.
A workable plan
I believe that the final budget is a workable plan for the next two years. Is the total budget more than I had hoped for at slightly over $48 billion? Yes! We see government growth heading upward.
We did, however, get chances to review activity at DHS and MnDOT to try and bring about savings and efficiencies. This is a small step in the right direction. And, I thank Governor Walz for agreeing to allow the state to accomplish that.
At the end of session, all got some of what they wanted and no one got everything they wanted. That is how it is in compromise, especially with split government!

Bill Weber of Luverne is a Minnesota senator representing District 22.

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