On May 20, we wrapped up the legislative session by putting bills on the governor’s desk to cut taxes, provide schools with more funding, and expand broadband in rural Minnesota. Moreover, we took major steps to address and fix the enormous challenges faced by Minnesotans due to the Dayton administration’s MNLARS debacle and the revelation of years of elder abuse reports neglected by Minnesota’s Department of Health and Human Services. We completed our work on schedule and made a good-faith effort at compromise. Despite the compromise effort, the governor vetoed our tax and school funding bill as well as our supplemental budget, which will mean major consequences for many, many Minnesotans.
During his press conference to discuss the vetoes, Governor Dayton couldn’t name more than two reasons for vetoing our supplemental budget proposal. This is disappointing, especially when you consider all those who will be negatively impacted by his intransigence. The legislature met the governor more than halfway, addressing nearly 70% of the objections he put in writing. Unfortunately, he decided he needed all or nothing—that doesn’t seem like compromise to me.
First, rejecting the tax bill will negatively impact every single Minnesota tax filer in the state. Our bill streamlined the process for 2019 filing, and cut taxes for 2.2 million filers. By vetoing this bill, Dayton’s Department of Revenue, by their own admission, will have to draft 80 pages of new income tax instructions and “will complicate reporting, filing, and paying taxes for every person, business, and nonprofit.” We passed two different tax conformity bills that would have fixed this problem, but the governor chose to reject our compromise efforts and vetoed them both.
With the veto of our supplemental budget, Minnesotans with disabilities and their caretakers will face significant difficulties by the 7% cut to the Disability Waiver Rate System. Our bill fixed this issue because we understand that those doing the work of caring for Minnesotans with disabilities is difficult, and by Dayton supporting this cut, it’ll only get tougher. Hearing from these loving caretakers about how the veto will impact them is heartbreaking, and I can’t imagine looking into their eyes and justifying the veto as the governor now has to do.
Students, teachers, and schools are also negatively impacted by the governor’s aversion to using his veto power. Late in the session, the governor declared a need for emergency school funding and we responded by providing up to $84 million in new funding for schools ($225 million in total when flexibility measures are added). That would be a big help for schools across the state, including an $89 per pupil increase for a district like Grand Rapids when all of the bills passed in the final days of session were taken into consideration. Sadly, the governor decided no new funding at all was preferable to signing our bill. It’s such a shame.
The rollout of our vehicle licensing system has been fraught with disaster since July. Those most feeling the impact of MNLARS are our hardworking deputy registrars. Many of these small business owners are at risk of losing their business due to increased costs and decreasing fee revenue because of the persistent glitches. This, of course, is no fault of their own. It’s the state’s fault for imposing a half-working system on registrars. What’s especially frustrating is we passed a standalone bill to provide aid for these registrars and the governor, of course, vetoed it. Dayton has said he wants provisions like these in standalone bills, but has shown he’ll continue to use his veto for political purposes rather than to benefit Minnesotans.
Now that we’ve finished the legislative session, I want to say a sincere thank you to all who called, emailed, or visited me at the Capitol over the last two years. It’s been the experience of a lifetime to be a voice for our area and I’m humbled by this honor. I am viewing the governor’s vetoes as a temporary setback and I am committed to picking up this work again with a new governor and moving Minnesota forward.