2018 Gubernatorial Forum: Focusing on issues important to Greater Minnesota

Join the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Greater Mankato Growth and the Greater Minnesota Partnership on Thursday, July 26 for a forum featuring the leading candidates in the running to be Minnesota’s next governor! Confirmed participants are DFL candidates State Rep. Erin Murphy, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Congressman Tim Walz and GOP candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is challenging Johnson in the GOP primary, declined our invitation to participate. Marvin Rhodes, general manager of KEYC News 12, will serve as moderator.

The 90-minute forum will be from 7:30-9 p.m. in the Grand Hall at the Verizon Center in Mankato. The event is free and open to the public; doors open at 7 p.m. Please see this event flyer for more information.

The forum will focus on issues important to Greater Minnesota communities such as Local Government Aid, the child care shortage, water quality regulations, transportation, infrastructure needs, housing and job training. It will be one of the few opportunities to learn about where the candidates stand on these crucial issues prior to the Aug. 14 primary.

For those who are unable to attend the forum in person, we are partnering with the award-winning KTV public access station to do a live broadcast online at accessktv.org/watch. It will also be televised live on KTV in the Mankato area on Channels 7 and 507 on Consolidated Communications and Channel 181 on Charter. A rebroadcast of the forum will air on FOX 12 Manktao from 1-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 28.

If you have any questions about the event, please contact CGMC Media & Communications Director Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1917.

The CGMC Summer Conference is almost here!

The CGMC Summer Conference is less than two weeks away! If you have not yet registered, please do so at greatermncities.org/summer18/. The deadline to register is Wednesday, July 18.
 
We have a great agenda lined up for the conference, which will be held July 25-27 and co-hosted by the cities of Mankato, North Mankato and St. Peter. Highlights include:

  • An interactive discussion/presentation on “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the 2018 legislative session and a preview of the upcoming election
  • A keynote luncheon featuring speaker Kevin Lindsey, Commissioner of the MN Department of Human Rights
  • A legislative panel discussion on economic development
  • A gubernatorial candidate forum focused on issues that affect Greater Minnesota communities
  • A panel discussion on the ways farmers, ag industries and cities can work together to address water-quality concerns
  • Opportunities to explore the cities of Mankato, North Mankato and St. Peter
  • An awards dinner honoring legislators and city officials who were instrumental in advancing CGMC priorities over the past year
  • …and much more!

If you have any questions about the conference or the gubernatorial forum, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com or 651-259-1917.

Candidates on board for CGMC gubernatorial forum

With the primary elections only weeks away, one of the highlights of the upcoming CGMC Summer Conference is a forum featuring the candidates vying to be Minnesota’s next governor. Thus far, three candidates have confirmed their participation in the forum: DFL candidates State Rep. Erin Murphy, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Congressman Tim Walz and GOP candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty has yet to respond to our invitations.

The forum, which is co-hosted by CGMC, Greater Mankato Growth and the Greater Minnesota Partnership, will focus on issues important to Greater Minnesota communities such as Local Government Aid, the child care shortage, water quality regulations, transportation, infrastructure needs, housing and job training. It will be one of the few opportunities to learn about where the candidates stand on these crucial issues prior to the Aug. 14 primary.

The 90-minute forum will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26 in the Grand Hall at the Verizon Center in Mankato. The event is free and open to the public, so we encourage you to attend — even if you are unable to attend the full CGMC Summer Conference — and to bring others as well. All CGMC members are also invited to join us immediately after the forum for discussion and dessert in the Reception Hall at the Verizon Center.

For those who are unable to attend the forum in person, we are partnering with the award-winning KTV public access station to do a live broadcast online at accessktv.org/watch and also on TV in the Mankato area.

Join us for the CGMC Summer Conference!

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to make plans to join your follow city leaders in Mankato July 25-27 for the CGMC Summer Conference! We have a great conference lined up featuring informative and entertaining sessions, city tours, a gubernatorial candidate forum, networking opportunities, and more. Highlights include:

  • Legislative Session 2018: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – An interactive discussion and in-depth analysis of the legislative session and what it all means for Greater Minnesota priorities and the future of state government. We will also look ahead to the upcoming 2018 elections, including the fight for control of the Legislature and the race for our next Governor.
  • “Farm to (Water) Table: Agriculture’s Role in Protecting Clean Water” – A panel discussion on agriculture’s role in water quality efforts and ways in which cities, farmers and ag industries can work together to address these often contentious issues.
  • “From North Minneapolis to the North Shore (And Everywhere in Between): Cultivating Economic Growth Statewide”– A panel discussion featuring rural, suburban and urban lawmakers on the Legislature’s role in economic development issues such as child care, job training and workforce housing.
  • Gubernatorial Forum – Hear from candidates vying to be Minnesota’s next governor during a forum focused on issues facing Greater Minnesota communities.
  • Opportunities to explore conference co-host cities Mankato, North Mankato and Saint Peter by taking part in city tours and during a cities-sponsored reception & dinner.
  • Exhibitors’ tradeshow featuring dozens of businesses and organizations that are eager to meet your cities needs by providing their services and goods.
  • …and much more!

Register today!
Please register at greatermncities.org/summer18. For more details about the conference, please see the full conference agenda & venue information. The deadline to register is July 18.

Accommodations
The Hilton Garden Inn in Mankato, located next to the Verizon Center, has a block of rooms reserved for CGMC Summer Conference attendees at a discounted rate of $119 (plus tax) per night. You can make a hotel reservation using this online reservation link or by calling the Hilton Garden Inn at 507-344-1111. The block closes July 4.

Questions?
If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com.

Future of transportation funding to be focus of CGMC breakfast at League conference

The CGMC is hosting a breakfast on Friday, June 22 as part of the League of Minnesota Cities conference in St. Cloud. CGMC transportation lobbyist Shane Zahrt will lead a discussion, titled “Pile-up at Funding Junction,” focusing on the past, present, and—most importantly—the future of transportation funding in Minnesota. The emphasis will be on why current funding is falling short and what responsible, sustainable funding might look like.

The CGMC breakfast will be held from 7:30-8:30 a.m. at the Bell/Alexander Rooms on first floor of River’s Edge Convention Center. The breakfast is free and open to both CGMC members and non-members, so we encourage you to invite others to attend as well. Registration is not required, but please let us know if you are planning to join us by sending an email to RSVP@flaherty-hood.com.

Bonding bill provides much-needed funding for clean water infrastructure, transportation and other important projects in Greater Minnesota

For Immediate Release
May 30, 2018
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty-hood.com
PDF version

Below is statement from CGMC President and Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski regarding the passage of the 2018 bonding bill.

“We are excited that Gov. Dayton has announced that he will sign the 2018 bonding bill into law. This bill includes critical funding for clean water infrastructure grant and loan programs, transportation projects, economic development initiatives, colleges and universities and other numerous projects that are important to Greater Minnesota cities.

“We would like to thank Sen. Senjem and Rep. Urdahl for crafting a balanced bonding bill that recognizes infrastructure needs across the state. We are grateful that our legislators and Gov. Dayton were able to put their differences aside and pass a bonding bill that funds vital projects, creates jobs and invests in a better future for our communities.

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The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 97 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 and follow us on Twitter @greatermncities.

ACTION ALERT – Urge Gov. Dayton to support clean water by signing the bonding bill

In the final hours of the Legislative session, the Legislature passed a bonding bill that includes approximately $123 million in funding for the Public Facilities Authority clean water infrastructure grant and loan programs. Funding for these programs is one of the CGMC’s top legislative priorities for 2018, and many CGMC members are on the list to receive grants and/or low-cost loans through the PFA programs this year.

It is essential that Gov. Dayton signs the bonding bill and does not line-item veto any of the clean water infrastructure funding. Even if your city is not seeking PFA funding this year, it is essential to continue to fund these programs so that funding is available when your city needs it.

Take action now!
Contact Gov. Dayton today and urge him to sign the bonding bill without line-item vetoing any of the funding for clean water infrastructure programs. Tell him that:

  • Funding for clean water infrastructure grant and loan programs is vital to Greater Minnesota communities.
  • Cities cannot hold off on making critical repairs and upgrades to their water facilities — this funding is needed now.
  • If funding does not come into fruition this year, cities will either continue to fall behind on infrastructure upgrades/repairs or be forced to drastically raise rates on businesses and residents to cover the costs.

Contact Info
Call Gov. Dayton at 651-201-3400 or 1-800-657-3717 or send him an email using this online form: https://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/

Questions?
If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Wefel at 651-259-1924 or eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.

End of legislative session raises more questions than it answers

The legislative session ended as scheduled late last night, but the final outcome is still not exactly clear. At least two of the three major bills everyone thought the Legislature needed to address this year seem headed for a likely veto. The fate of the tax bill and supplemental budget bill appear very much in doubt as there was little actual negotiation between the Legislature and Gov. Dayton in the final hours of the session and both bills are filled with several provisions the Governor likely finds objectionable. The bonding bill seems the most likely to be signed, but even that is not without controversy.

Once presented with the bills, the Governor has 14 days to determine if he is going to sign them, issue a veto, or leave them unacted upon which would be a “pocket” veto. See below for more details and stay tuned for further developments as Gov. Dayton decides the fate of legislative measures.

Consensus on bonding bill emerges at 11th hour
The bonding bill is always one of the last bills to be finalized during the legislative session, and this year was no different. The all-too-familiar script played out this week when the House successfully passed its version of the bonding bill off the floor on May 14, but the Senate version failed to pass off the floor two days later. This set up a waiting game of when a bonding bill would “emerge” and the guessing as to what would be in it.

True enough, a conference committee was called midday Sunday (just hours before the Legislature’s deadline) and a bill materialized. The bill passed the conference committee with little trouble, but it was not immediately brought to the floor as pressure built. The halls of the Capitol were rampant with rumors that the Senate would not have the votes to pass the bill and last-minute arm twisting, negotiating and maneuvering reached a fever pitch.

The final bill ultimately passed in House by a vote of 113 to 17 and in the Senate by a vote of 42 to 25, with both bodies reaching the supermajority required to pass a bonding bill.

The final bill included funding for CGMC priorities including $5 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) Grant Program, more than $120 million for clean water infrastructure (see more below), and hundreds of millions of dollars in authorization for transportation projects.

While there is a strong expectation that Gov. Dayton will sign the bill, it is his prerogative to line-item veto projects. There is also a chance that he could veto the whole bill. If he does, it would be largely over a disagreement over some of the mechanisms used to fund projects out of monies associated with the Environmental Trust Fund and the state’s Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (again, see more below).

If your city has a project in the bonding bill, we strongly encourage you to reach out to the Governor’s office and urge him to sign the bill.

Legislature uses new funding mechanism to get money for clean water programsIncreased funding for the Public Facilities Authority’s (PFA) clean water programs is one of the CGMC’s top funding priorities for 2018. The bonding bill passed by the Legislature last night contained approximately $123 million for the PFA to provide grants for wastewater and drinking water projects. However, the bill created a new funding mechanism for Point Source Implementation Grants (PSIG) that could lead to a line-item veto of those funds. 

The bill includes general obligation bond funding of $14 million for state matching funds for federal Environmental Protection Agency grants and $25 million for drinking water grants from the Water Infrastructure Fund (WIF). In addition, it includes $25 million for grants to specific political subdivisions. 

Where it gets little murky is that the Legislature also created a new class of appropriation bonds that will be funded by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), which are lottery funds typically used to fund grants recommended by the Legislative-Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). These new appropriation bonds will add $6 million to the state matching funds for the EPA capitalization grants, $14.6 million to WIF for wastewater grants, and $38 million to PSIG.

A number of groups are objecting to the creation of the appropriation bonds, claiming that the funding mechanism defeats the intent behind the constitutional amendment creating the ENTRF. There is a danger that Gov. Dayton could veto this portion of the bill because of the funding mechanism. Please keep your eye out for an “Action Alert” from the CGMC asking members to call on the Governor to support the bonding bill, including the new funding for PFA programs.

If you have any questions regarding this portion of the bonding bill, please contact Elizabeth Wefel at eawefel@flaherty-hood.com.

Transportation funding makes its way into bonding, supplemental budget bills
Corridors of Commerce – Disappointment set in for many Greater Minnesota residents on May 1 when the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced that $400 million in Corridors of Commerce funding it was authorized to allocate would go to projects inside the metro area or immediately adjacent to it. Advocates for many important Greater Minnesota transportation projects had been waiting for years to make the type of progress that this funding presented, and were dismayed when the dollars flowed elsewhere.

In response, the CGMC and other Greater Minnesota transportation advocacy groups called on the Legislature and Governor to make it right by allocating additional funds to Corridors of Commerce and directing all of those funds to Greater Minnesota projects. This set in motion a chain of events that resulted in $400 million in Corridors of Commerce funding being approved in the final bonding bill that passed both the House and Senate just minutes before the Legislature adjourned. These dollars are accompanied by language that is designed to direct a significant share of them to projects like Highway 14, Highway 23, and potentially others if funding allows.

All that these projects need now is the Governor’s signature on the bonding bill. If you have a project you care about, please contact the Governor’s office and encourage him to sign the bonding bill.

Local roads and bridges – The Local Road Improvement Program, which provides grants to local governments for road projects and is typically funded through the bonding bill, received around $78 million in total funding. Approximately $28.6 million of those funds are earmarked for specific projects, leaving about $50 million to be awarded as grants. These grants are awarded through an application and selection process that will likely take place later this year. Stay tuned to the CGMC in Brief for updates.

City street funding Legislators continue to express sympathy for small cities which receive no funding for their city streets through the existing constitutional formulas. This year’s House transportation bill would have included permanent funding for the Small Cities Assistance Program, but that funding was reduced to a one-time appropriation of $8.5 million for FY2019 only in the final supplemental budget bill. It is still unknown whether Gov. Dayton will sign the supplemental budget bill, which totals nearly 1,000 pages and touches on numerous issues.

For MSA cities—those with a population greater than 5,000 residents—efforts to increase city street funding largely fell on deaf ears. While the House advanced efforts to put more funding into the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund, which would have trickled down to MSA cities through the formula, no other permanent increase came out of this session.

Constitutional amendment for transportation fails
Throughout this legislative session, talk of a possible constitutional amendment to re-dedicate existing general fund revenues to transportation simmered in the background and nearly boiled over in the final weeks as the House took up and passed the measure. Ultimately, the measure failed to gain enough support in the Senate and was never brought to the floor for a vote. Thank you to all of our members who contacted your legislators and urged them to oppose this amendment.

The CGMC voiced concerns along the way because of the significant detrimental impacts the proposal would have had on our state’s general fund. Once fully phased in, the measure would have re-directed around $279 million a year in existing general fund revenues.

The CGMC supports long-term sustainable funding for transportation, but has long opposed efforts like this one that would jeopardize the integrity of the state’s budget in the process.

Legislature passes tax bill, but Governor threatens veto
The Legislature passed a tax bill on the final day of the session which would align Minnesota’s state tax system with the recently reformed federal tax reform. The bill cuts some business taxes while decreasing the individual income tax rates for the two lowest income tax brackets.

Gov. Dayton asserted that the bill did not do enough for middle-class Minnesotans, and sought $138 million in emergency school funding. The GOP bill provided new money (by forcing the state Department of Natural Resources to repay the use of school land), while making existing education funding more flexible. The Governor opposed the GOP plan.

The Governor has up to two weeks to sign the bill. If he chooses not to sign it, the Legislature can still pass a federal tax conformity bill before the 2019 tax filing season. DFL legislative leaders support vetoing the bill.

ACTION ALERT – Tell your senator to squash the proposed constitutional amendment

A proposal to add a new amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would re-direct approximately $300 million a year from the state’s general fund to transportation is still alive at the Legislature. A bill that would put the amendment on the ballot this November is being voted on in the House today, where is it expected to pass. That means our best hope of defeating this harmful amendment now lies in the Senate.

Take action now!
Contact your senator, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk as soon as possible and urge them to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment.

Tell them that:

  • By re-directing and dedicating general fund dollars, this amendment poses a serious threat to other important priorities such as Local Government Aid, education and elder care.
  • This amendment would jeopardize the stability of the state budget.
  • Measures that pit schools and public safety against roads and bridges should not be put up for a vote, especially when there are other viable options to increase funding for transportation, such as raising the gas tax or license tab fees.

Contact info

Questions? If you have any questions about the proposed constitutional amendment, please contact Bradley Peterson at bmpeterson@flaherty-hood.com or (651) 259-1911.

Register for the CGMC Summer Conference!

Registration is now open for the CGMC Summer Conference! The 2018 conference will be held July 25-27 at the Verizon Center in Mankato and is co-hosted by the cities of Mankato, North Mankato and Saint Peter. During the conference you will:

  • Learn about emerging trends and challenges facing Greater Minnesota communities
  • Find out how the results of the 2018 legislative session could impact your community — and what races to pay attention to in the upcoming November elections
  • Hear from the candidates vying to be Minnesota’s next governor during a gubernatorial candidate forum
  • Explore the cities of Mankato, North Mankato and Saint Peter by taking part in city tours and during a cities-sponsored reception & dinner
  • Learn about new services, businesses and organizations at the exhibitors’ tradeshow
  • Forge connections with other city leaders from across Greater Minnesota by sharing your ideas, concerns and hopes for the future

CONFERENCE DETAILS
See this CONFERENCE AGENDA & VENUE INFORMATION for more detailed information about the 2018 conference.

REGISTER TODAY!
Please register online greatermncities.org/summer18. The deadline to register is July 18.

HOTEL INFORMATION
The Hilton Garden Inn in Mankato has a block of rooms reserved for CGMC Summer Conference attendees at a discounted rate of $119 (plus tax) per night. You can make a hotel reservation using this ONLINE RESERVATION LINK or by calling the Hilton Garden Inn at 507-344-1111. The block closes July 4.

Please note that attendees are responsible for their own hotel reservations.

QUESTIONS?
If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Julie Liew at jlliew@flaherty-hood.com or (651) 259-1917.