Some hits, lots of misses

Future of bonding, surplus spending bills undecided

Gov. Walz press office Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed eight bills last week.

The question of whether or not Minnesota lawmakers will be able to finish work on some key bills is in the governor’s hands now. But after the legislative session ended Sunday night, there were still some areas of concern, said Sen. Gary Dahms.

“The biggest issue this year is we have not got a bonding bill,” said Dahms, R-Redwood Falls. “That is very concerning to me.”

This year, state bonding requests from southwest Minnesota have included capital projects like much-needed wastewater updates in the city of Tyler, upgrades to rail lines between the cities of Fairfax and Morton, building renovations at Southwest Minnesota State University, and a proposal to build a regional alternative learning center in Marshall.

The question of how to spend Minnesota’s budget surplus was one that took up a lot of time for legislators this session, Dahms said Monday.

Dahms said state lawmakers made compromises to try and give some of the surplus money back to taxpayers. But while the legislature had an agreement on the amount of surplus money that would be spent, “We were having a hard time getting the committees to live within that number,” Dahms said.

Some committees were able to pass surplus budget bills by the end of the session. Others, like bills for education and health and human services spending, were still open, Dahms said.

“I think they’re close,” he said, but he couldn’t say whether the bills might be finished and passed in the future. The answer to that question could depend on whether a special session is called.

“Statutorily, the governor is the only one who can call a special session,” Dahms said. He expected legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Walz would meet to talk about that possibility.

“One thing that is different than other years is, this is not a budgeting year,” Dahms said. Minnesota already has a budget in place that will keep the state running, even if a tax cut and surplus spending package are not passed.


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