CGMC Legislative Action Day was a huge success! More than 110 city officials and business leaders from nearly 50 cities attended the CGMC’s annual lobbying event on March 14. We also had great attendance from legislators at the reception and dinner that capped off the day at Mancini’s — a bipartisan mix of more than 40 legislators representing both rural and urban districts mingled with CGMC members over a steak dinner, despite having to move to our event to an earlier time due to the Governor’s State of the State Address that evening.

One of the highlights of this year’s Legislative Action Day was a lunchtime panel discussion featuring Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa), Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) and House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park). This is the first time in recent memory that all four legislative leaders have addressed the CGMC membership at the same time.

Discussing their goals for the legislative session, there was agreement among all four legislators that a top priority is passing a bonding bill that is heavily focused on replacing old or outdated infrastructure. Sen. Bakk said he is seeking a bill that is somewhere around $1 billion, while Sen. Gazelka and Speaker Daudt said they expect the bill to be $800 million or less. The legislators also discussed the state’s budget situation, with several noting that the recent February Forecast (which showed a $329 million surplus) was lower than expected. Sen. Gazelka and Speaker Daudt emphasized that economic indicators are positive at both the state and national levels and expressed disappointment with Minnesota Management & Budget’s (MMB) forecast predictions. However, Sen. Bakk and Rep. Hortman said there are a potentially troubling signs ahead for the state budget, particularly due to inflation and slowing job growth. When asked what advice they would give to the next governor, Rep. Hortman urged him or her to invest in our state’s workforce and education system. Sen. Bakk, who jokingly predicted that the next governor will be named “Tim,” echoed Rep. Hortman’s comments and said a strong investment in our workforce is what makes Minnesota great. Speaker Daudt said the next governor needs to focus on keeping Minnesota competitive, claiming that our current tax system encourages residents and businesses to go elsewhere. Sen. Gazelka advised the next governor to be accurate when predicting the future (harking back to his assertion that the recent MMB numbers are flawed) and urged them not to be afraid to reform. You can watch video of the full panel discussion here.

Legislative Action Day attendees then spent the afternoon meeting with legislators at the Capitol and urging them to support CGMC proposals on LGA, water infrastructure funding, child care and other important issues. A copy of the lobbying packet that was given to legislators can be found here.

A big thank you to everyone who participated in Legislative Action Day!