There are several points the Mankato Free Press failed to mention when attacking Republican legislators for not supporting the bonding bill:
1) This nearly $2 billion bonding bill would increase the cost of private health insurance for farmers, small businesses and self-employed by robbing $100 million from the health insurance premium security account. This account currently reduces private insurance rates by 25%. This bill used this money to conform to the federal 179 expensing tax code.
2) The state has a $4 billion deficit to make up before June 30, 2021. Skate parks, multi-million dollar outdoor concert venues in Minneapolis and light rail lines that may never be built are not essential. Some legislators and the governor don’t seem to understand that the fiscal picture has profoundly changed since the COVID 19 recession.
3) This “bonding” bill was a healthcare/tax/bonding/debt bill rolled together in clear violation of the constitution’s single-subject requirement.
All bills should be broken into smaller bills and voted on individually. Tax provisions and money shifting need separate legislation, separately considered and discussed. This bill was more egregious than usual in how it combined legislation.
4) While I disagree with Gov. Tim Walz’s “peacetime emergency” authority to write laws unilaterally, this was not a factor in my evaluation of the bonding bill. I have been an outspoken critic of bargaining to end Walz’s emergency orders in exchange for adding over a billion dollars in debt to our state’s credit card, because the governor can re-issue his emergency orders, after signing the bonding bill.
5) My bill funding the Vernon Center wastewater project would stop 12 million gallons of raw sewage from being dumped into the Blue Earth River annually. At my bill’s hearing, Mayor Ziegler and I listened to dozens of other bills earmarking funding for non-essential projects ahead of essential ones. This is how the bonding bill becomes a political tool; taxpayer dollars for non-essential projects are handed to lawmakers in swing districts for use on campaign mailers.
Typically, $200 million in “discretionary funds” are used to “secure votes” for the bonding bill. When complaining about a bonding bill not garnering the needed three-fifths majority of votes in each chamber, you are supporting this process.
6) This 183 page bonding bill became available at 10:30 p.m., an hour before legislators were forced by leadership to vote. Anyone who wants to pass a $2 billion spending bill without having time to read and research impacts is asking that four legislators make all the decisions, making the 195 other lawmakers moot.
This should be especially concerning when one of the four “leaders” earns a full-time salary from a Washington, D.C., firm, which works for lobbyists representing dozens of multinational corporations, including pharmaceutical companies and insulin manufacturers.
If the paper wants this type of influence to make all spending decisions behind closed doors, then, by all means, keep criticizing those who want transparency, honesty and accountability in government.
Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, represents District 23B in the Minnesota House of Representatives.