Category archives
Special Session

On Tuesday, Gov. Dayton announced he would sign all of the budget bills passed by the Legislature, as well as the bonding and tax bills. Nonetheless, significant controversy continues. Here’s a play-by-play of the final days of the special session, including the CGMC perspective on what may come:

Special session marked by frustration
Before the Legislature had even sent Gov. Dayton all of its budget bills, loud protests rang through the Capitol urging the Governor to “veto everything.” Activists were angered by the perception that Republican leadership in the Legislature had sneaked controversial provisions into a number of bills after reaching an agreement with Gov. Dayton.

Late in the week, it seemed that the tax bill (which includes a $15 million LGA increase) was a possible veto target. Gov. Dayton and other Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, expressed concern over the high cost of the GOP’s tax bill, which comes in at $650 million in the first biennium and grows substantially thereafter. Sen. Bakk urged Gov. Dayton to veto the bill to avoid future deficits.

Legislature tries to tie Dayton’s hands
To pressure Gov. Dayton into signing the tax bill, legislators inserted a provision into a state government funding bill without the Governor’s knowledge. The provision would have withheld all funding for the operation of the Department of Revenue unless Gov. Dayton signed the tax bill. On Tuesday, House Speaker Kurt Daudt acknowledged to reporters the provision was placed in the bill behind Gov. Dayton’s back. When asked if the Governor knew about the provision in advance, Speaker Daudt replied, “He found it eventually.”

Dayton signs budget bills, but responds with his own maneuvers
In response to the Legislature’s maneuver, Gov. Dayton wrote to leaders, “I consider this provision … to be a reprehensible sneak attack, which shatters whatever trust we achieved.” Angered by the perceived slight, Gov. Dayton signed all of the budget bills, but used his line-item veto power to strike any new funding for the operation of the Legislature itself. Gov. Dayton indicated that vetoing the Legislature’s funding was a move to bring legislators back to the negotiating table. Arguing they had not negotiated in good faith, the Governor wants to re-open negotiations on items in the tax bill including tax freezes on cigarettes and the state commercial/industrial property tax.

Rather than return to the negotiating table, the Legislature is likely to sue the Governor on constitutional grounds. The courts will be asked to determine whether the Governor in fact has the authority to use his veto pen to eliminate funding for another, co-equal branch of government.
 
The CGMC perspective
Regardless of how the controversy plays out, provisions in the tax bill that benefit CGMC members cities, such as the $15 million LGA increase and LGA formula fixes, are not likely to be impacted. A lawsuit between branches of government would be on the narrow issue of the Legislature’s funding. In the unlikely scenario that negotiations do restart, they will likely be limited to just a few controversial items. The CGMC will continue to monitor developments.

Final outcome of CGMC priorities
For a brief overview of how the CGMC’s top legislative priorities fared this session, please see this 2017 Outcomes Chart.

The House and Senate, purportedly in agreement with Gov. Dayton, passed a tax bill today that comes in around $648 million for the 2018-19 biennium. The bill includes a permanent $15 million increase in Local Government Aid. To see a preliminary estimate of how your city will do with this increase, click HERE for the CGMC’s updated LGA run.

We want to extend a sincere THANK YOU to everyone who responded to our numerous Action Alerts by contacting your legislators and the Governor about the need for an increase in LGA funding. We were hoping for a larger increase, and we will continue the fight, but it was thanks to your help that this final number is higher than previous proposals from both the House and Senate.
 
Here are links to the SPREADSHEET and BILL LANGUAGE for the tax bill.

Last night’s legislative deadline sailed by without action on several key bills, including the tax bill (which includes Local Government Aid funding). Governor Dayton immediately called a special session at 12:01 a.m. this morning, which means legislators are continuing their work to pass budget bills. There is still hope for an LGA increase, but we need your help!

Take action now!
If we are going to secure an LGA increase, it is imperative that you contact Governor Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka by 3 p.m. TODAY. Tell them that the final tax bill must include a permanent $20 million increase in LGA per year over the next two years.

Contact info

Questions?
If you have any questions about LGA or the legislative session, please contact Bradley Peterson at bmpeterson@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1911.

Below is statement from Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities President and Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson on Governor Dayton’s announcement that he has laid out the terms under which he would call a special session. A PDF version of Carlson’s statement is available here.

“We strongly support Gov. Dayton’s call for a special session. In particular, we are pleased to see that his proposal includes several top priorities for Greater Minnesota cities, including a $20 million increase in LGA, $133 million for clean water infrastructure grants and loans and funding for numerous bonding projects throughout the state.

It appears the ball is now in the legislative leaders’ court. We are actively encouraging Greater Minnesota city leaders and residents to contact the legislative leaders and their own legislators to urge them to support Governor Dayton’s special session terms. Minnesotans deserve action on the tax and bonding bills, as well as a quick resolution to their concerns about rising health insurance costs. The legislative leaders should support the Governor’s plan for special session so our communities and the state can move forward.”

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Earlier today, Governor Dayton sent a letter to legislative leaders laying out the terms under which he would call a special session to address taxes, bonding and concerns about health insurance costs. We are pleased that the Governor’s proposal includes our top priorities for taxes and bonding:

– A $20 million increase in LGA payable to cities in 2017
– $133 million for clean water infrastructure grant and loan programs
– $12 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) Grant Program
– …plus funding for bonding projects in several CGMC member cities

The ball is now in the legislative leaders’ court. If the leaders agree to his terms by this Thursday, the Governor has stated that he will call a special session to be held on Dec. 20.

Take action now!

As a Greater MN city leader, it is imperative that you call the four legislative leaders and your own legislators TODAY and tell them to support Governor Dayton’s special session terms so that Greater Minnesota communities can benefits from an LGA increase and move forward with key construction projects.

Contact info

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact Bradley Peterson at bmpeterson@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1911.

The Legislature and Governor missed an enormous opportunity in 2016 by failing to pass tax and bonding bills. Without a tax bill, cities will not receive a much-needed $20M increase in LGA. Without a bonding bill, Greater Minnesota communities won’t receive funding for wastewater infrastructure and other important projects. With a recently announced $1.4B surplus, the state is on firm financial footing‒it’s now up to our state leaders to take action.

There are signs that legislative leaders will revisit the 2016 tax and bonding bills in a legislative session soon, which would significantly benefit Greater Minnesota. For more on the CGMC’s position, read this press release.

Take action now!

As a Greater MN city leader, it is imperative that you call Governor Dayton TODAY and tell him:

  • Greater Minnesota city leaders and residents are counting on him to call a special session to pass bonding and tax bills.

Also, contact your current state legislators TODAY and tell them:

  • Join with Greater Minnesota communities in support of a special session focused on passing the tax and bonding bills.

Contact info

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact Bradley Peterson at bmpeterson@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1940.

A PDF version of this press release is available here.

For Immediate Release: Dec. 5, 2016
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com

Greater Minnesota city leaders urge Governor Dayton to address tax, bonding bills in December special session

ST. PAUL—With a sizable state surplus announced on Friday and continuing discussions between key state lawmakers regarding the imminent need to respond to concerns about MNsure, city leaders in Greater Minnesota are renewing their call for Governor Dayton to schedule a special session this month.

“The time is ripe for a special session,” said Sara Carlson, mayor of Alexandria and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC). “Something needs to be done quickly about health insurance, and a special session would provide an opportunity to also take action on the tax and bonding bills that failed to pass last session.”

Carlson noted that communities across the state are coping with the negative effects caused by the lack of state action on taxes and capital investment.

“Many cities are facing property tax increases, due in large part to the fact that LGA has remained stagnant while costs continue to go up,” she said. “Without a bonding bill, communities are unable to proceed with important construction projects that are key to improving infrastructure and bringing economic growth.”

The tax bill, which passed with strong bipartisan support in the Legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Dayton due to a drafting error last spring, included a $20 million increase in Local Government Aid (LGA), as well as additional tax relief for farmers, businesses and students. The Legislature also came close to an agreement on a bonding bill which included millions of dollars for infrastructure needs statewide, including $133 million for grant and loan programs that help cities pay for expensive upgrades to their water treatment facilities. However, the bonding bill failed to pass by the end-of-session deadline.

“The Governor and Legislature can get a positive start on the new year by holding a special session now,” Carlson said. “Fixing MNsure and addressing the unfinished business on taxes and bonding would send a positive message that they can work together and do what needs to be done to help communities and families all across the state.”

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The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 88 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota. Visit the CGMC online at greatermncities.org.

There have been glimmers of hope for a special session throughout the summer, but every time we think it will happen our hopes are dashed. As we get closer to the fall election, a special session to address the tax, bonding, and transportation bills becomes more challenging from a political and logistical standpoint.

It looked like state leaders were close to a breakthrough at the end of July, but concerns about the August primary put the discussions on hold. At that time, Gov. Dayton expressed hope that a special session could be scheduled for mid-August following the primary. However, on Monday he said that a special session would need to be pushed back a week or two, if there is going to be one at all. The Governor is scheduled to meet with the four key legislative leaders on Friday in attempt to resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the special session.

The CGMC passed a resolution calling for a special session at our summer conference in July.  We urge our members to contact their legislators to remind them how important a special session is to their community.

Below is a CGMC press release that was sent to media outlets across the state. A PDF version is available here.

For Immediate Release: July 22, 2016
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com

Greater Minnesota city leaders renew push for special session
At annual meeting, CGMC members call on Governor, legislative leaders to keep focus on rural priorities when Legislature reconvenes

AUSTIN, MINN.—At an annual gathering of city leaders from Greater Minnesota, officials from across the state renewed their push for a special legislative session this summer to address the failed tax and bonding bills.

Mayors, city council members and city staff from all over Greater Minnesota convened in Austin this week for the annual Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) Summer Conference. With news that Gov. Dayton and legislative leaders appear to be inching closer to an agreement on a special session after they resumed negotiations July 15, CGMC conference attendees were cautiously optimistic that Greater Minnesota needs could still be addressed this year.

“The regular session was a huge letdown, but there is still a chance for lawmakers to get something positive done,” said Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson, who was elected president of the CGMC for 2016-2017 at the organization’s membership meeting Friday morning. “Now that special session talks have started up again, we are hopeful that the Governor and legislative leaders can set aside their differences and pass bills that will help communities in Greater Minnesota and throughout the state.”

At Friday’s membership meeting, the CGMC adopted a resolution in support of a special session that addresses critical Greater Minnesota needs that had been included in the final versions of the failed bills. The CGMC’s top priorities for the special session include:

  • $20 million increase in funding for the Local Government Aid (LGA) program
  • $133.5 million for clean water infrastructure grant and loan programs
  • $12 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Infrastructure (BDPI) Grant Program, which helps cities pay for public infrastructure needed to encourage private business growth
  • $200 million for the Corridors of Commerce program
  • $50 million for city streets, divided between cities with populations of 5,000 and above and those with fewer than 5,000 residents

“The tax bill and bonding bill each contained several provisions that would benefit Greater Minnesota,” Carlson said. “If there is a special session, we urge Gov. Dayton and the Legislature to keep focus on top priorities like an LGA increase and funding for water treatment facilities, highways and city streets. These issues remain extremely important to rural communities. We want to make sure they aren’t overshadowed by other matters when the Legislature reconvenes.”

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This week marked a full month since the Legislature adjourned without deals on bonding, taxes or transportation. At this point, the two sides are still talking … barely. The Governor and legislative leaders met earlier this week and all sides left the meeting feeling more discouraged.

A new dynamic was brought to the negotiations when House Republicans added demands for tax credits for private schools and preemption of local government authority to set regulations on such things as wages and benefits.

At post-meeting press conferences, both sides played the blame game and accused each other of not really wanting a special session.

Subsequent to the meeting, Gov. Dayton has indicated a willingness to drop half of his additional bonding proposals, but reiterated his “must haves” include funding for a University of Minnesota health sciences building and more money for maintenance of MNSCU facilities.

No further meetings are scheduled and Gov. Dayton has indicated he is waiting for House Speaker Daudt to call the next meeting.