The following press release was sent to media outlets throughout the state today. A PDF version is available here.
May 19, 2015
With special session looming, lawmakers get second chance to invest in Greater Minnesota
Greater Minnesota citizens and communities should expect more from Governor, Legislature
ST. PAUL—The 2015 Legislative Session concluded last night amid a flurry of eleventh hour deals and negotiations, but a tax bill was not among the last-minute agreements. However, today’s announcement from Governor Dayton that he will call a special session opens the door to the possibility that important provisions for Greater Minnesota that lingered in the abandoned tax bill could be revived.
When lawmakers were unable to settle on a tax bill by yesterday’s constitutional deadline, two of the top priorities for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC)—an increase in Local Government Aid and tax credits to help spur investment in housing for middle-income workers—were left unfunded. But now with the Governor’s decision to hold a special session, a tax bill has the potential to be back in play.
“In failing to pass a tax bill during the regular session, legislators and the governor missed a rare opportunity to address crucial needs in Greater Minnesota,” said Heidi Omerza, president of the CGMC and a member of the Ely City Council. “Now with the special session, they have a second chance to pass a tax bill that includes an LGA increase, workforce housing tax credits and meaningful property tax relief in Greater Minnesota. They shouldn’t let this opportunity pass them by.”
While calling the breakdown of negotiations on a tax bill a “major missed opportunity,” Omerza noted that the Legislature made some progress during the regular session on some of the CGMC’s other priorities. Issues such as broadband, job training, workforce housing grants, street funding for cities under 5,000, and the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant program received strong bipartisan support and were included in bills passed by the Legislature. However, they were funded at nominal amounts.
“The Legislature laid some positive groundwork on economic development issues, but they didn’t put enough money into key programs,” Omerza said. “We have to keep fighting for more funding for things like broadband and city streets, especially as the state surplus continues to grow. Greater Minnesotans should expect more from the Legislature and Governor in 2016.”