There is good and bad news to report with the final compromise budget deal

Representative Denny McNamara

Representative Denny McNamara

By Rep. Denny McNamara, 05/19/2015

Hello from the State Capitol,

On May 18, the 2015 legislative session came to a close and there is good and bad news to report with the final compromise budget deal.

We finished on time, and there are a number of new provisions that will benefit our schools, nursing homes, and residents across this state. This session proved that Republicans and Democrats can work together and do what’s right for the State of Minnesota.

Among the positives included in the compromise budget plan include $400 million in new funding for K-12 schools. Of this amount, 72 percent goes directly onto the student formula, which totals a 1.5 percent increase in Fiscal Year 2016, and a two percent increase in Fiscal Year 2017.

Nursing homes received prioritization from the Legislature, as $138 million was dedicated to implement a statewide rate of reimbursement which will help improve the wages of care providers and provide a permanent solution to statewide nursing home needs.

I was also pleased with the environment finance bill compromise that was approved by the legislature. Included was full funding for the Minnesota Zoo and both the Department of Natural Resources Parks & Trails and Forestry Divisions. Also added was language for Governor Dayton’s land buffer initiative, which will help clean up our state’s lakes, rivers and streams while improving wildlife and pollinator habitats.

Among the disappointments: the failure of striking a deal on a long-term, statewide road and bridge funding proposal.

Governor Dayton and Senate Democrats wanted to fund transportation needs this session by raising taxes and fees by more than $9 billion. This would have included a tax increase provision that ultimately would have raised the cost of gasoline by a minimum of 16-cents per gallon for drivers. This plan is extremely unpopular with Minnesotans. In my session survey alone, more than 75 percent of respondents did not support raising taxes and fees for transportation needs.

The House approved legislation that would have allocated $7 billion to roads and bridges without raising anyone’s taxes, but Senate Democrats and the governor would not consider this proposal. In the end, we approved a two-year transportation plan that funds our short-term needs and we will continue our long-term road and bridge discussion during the 2016 session.

I was also discouraged that the Senate failed to pass the Legacy funding bill before session adjourned. This bill included the money needed for soil and water conservation districts to implement the governor’s buffer initiative, as well as a clean water project for the Washington County Grey Cloud Island Slough.

I think it’s inevitable that we will need to have a special session to finish the few remaining items that were not approved before we adjourned. I’m hopeful we can come back and complete the Legacy bill as well as a very limited bonding bill that only includes funding for additional State Capitol restoration and flood relief.

Keep in touch,

Representative Denny McNamara
365 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155

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