After seven months of wrangling back on forth on whether or not to call a special session for the 2016 Minnesota Legislature, the verdict finally came in on Friday. It’s dead.

Governor Mark Dayton and House Speaker Kurt Daudt simply couldn’t find the common ground they needed to get the job done.

That puts the Ag2School proposal, that originally passed in the tax bill, among the top priorities of MREA for the 2017 legislative session beginning in January.

Why the Stalemate

There’s plenty of blame to go around, but the size and scope of the bonding bill and the manner in which to buy down insurance premiums for individuals purchasing coverage through MNSure proved to be insurmountable.

Sadly, these issues and their solutions didn’t appear to be ideological in nature. They seem to be the kind of issues where you can split the difference.

2017 Session Preview

This does not bode well for the long budget session we’re heading into in January. Speaker Daudt is either more emboldened with the gains his caucus made in the election or more concerned about shoring up his pure conservative credentials as he eyes a run for Governor in 2018, or both. The Governor likely wanted to keep his options open on revenue and signing off on a $500 million tax cut bill was never a priority of his.

Perhaps keeping their options open and not committing the state budget to new obligations at this time is the more prudent thing to do in the big picture. Still, it’s cold comfort to those struggling with farm taxes, spiking insurance premiums or communities wanting to move forward on capital projects.

Impact on Schools

For rural education and rural economic interests, losing Ag2School is a heartbreaker. We will be back pushing for Ag2School to be included in a tax bill in 2017. It won’t be as simple as picking up where we left and moving ahead at full steam. We start from scratch in a new budget cycle in a new year with new legislators with different ideas and priorities.

Stay connected with MREA’s weekly Insider Briefs  beginning after the new year and Action Alerts at particular times when your voice is needed. Talk with your legislators. We will need to raise rural education voices to move Ag2School and other priorities forward in 2017.  View the legislative platform for 2017.

On behalf of the MREA staff and board of directors, we hope you enjoy the holidays with family and friends.