Lack of special session means 2017 Legislature must address unresolved issues

Hope for a special legislative session — before the new Legislature convenes on January 3 — blew up in a short public meeting Friday as Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt pointed fingers at each other for the failure to reach a deal on how to address the rising MNsure premiums for the 120,000 now left on their own to cover their large health care premium increase.

The other two issues on the table for a special session were a tax bill and bonding bill left over from the 2016 session.

The spending of the special session could have been $1.55 billion, which would include $995 million in a bonding bill, $250 million in a tax relief bill and $313 million to cover 25 percent of the individual health increases.

No special session means a delay in $1 billion in construction projects and the agricultural tax credit (fiscal year 2018 is $44.4 million and fiscal year 2019 $46.2 million) in the tax relief bill. The agriculture tax credit is designed to help agricultural landowners in school districts with current and future bonded capital (building) projects, making them more affordable for farmers and to hopefully encourage them to be more supportive of school bonding requests by the school district.

It will be up to the new Legislature to craft the solution to health care premiums and introduce and pass a bonding bill and tax bill. The question remains, will new members see the value in all the same tax bill provisions as the 2016 Legislature? The 2017 Legislature will have more money to available due to the lack of special session bonding or tax bill.

MSBA will encourage the 2017 Legislature to retain the agriculture tax credit in the 2017 tax bill. School districts with large agriculture tax bases need this provision to meet the facility needs in their district.

“It’s a shared failure,” Dayton said of the scuttled special session. “It’s bad for Minnesota, there’s no doubt about it.”

“We’re going to put something in place the first week of session (for health care premiums) … and the governor is going to sign it,” Daudt said “This is a little setback for Minnesotans right now.”

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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