After several rounds of negotiations this summer, Minnesota legislative leaders and Governor Mark Dayton failed to reach an agreement on terms for a special session that could have produced a bonding bill and a package of tax cuts.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was non-federal matching funds for the Southwest Light Rail line between downtown Minneapolis and Eden Prairie. House GOP Speaker Kurt Daudt said his caucus is ideologically opposed to light rail and couldn’t accept Governor Dayton’s demands that language be included in special session legislation assisting Hennepin County and the Met Council to put up the non-federal match.
The casualities of gridlock are many and unfortunately impact opportunities for rural education. The tax cut package would have included a much sought after 40 percent property credit for agricultural land paying for school bonds.
A sales tax fix for the state High School League that would have restored funding for activity scholarships for low income kids will have to wait another year. An income tax credit for those paying student loan debt is another victim.
Commercial properties, especially lower valued properties in rural areas, would have seen a break on property taxes paid to the state through the state’s business property levy. Last, but not least is almost $1 billion in bonding projects, many for rural communities, that will have to wait or simply won’t ever happen.
The finger pointing has begun. Instead of spending the Fall explaining to constituents what they accomplished, legislative candidates will have to explain what they would have liked to have accomplished this year. How voters react and who will bear the brunt of the blame remains to be seen.