Yesterday, at the St Paul Regional Water Services facility in Roseville, backed with strong and visible support from our state’s labor unions, Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) presented his $3,274,319 billion Capital Budget, which includes, funding for the University of Minnesota and the State University and College systems, capital investment projects, Trunk Highway Bonds, state Asset Preservation and housing and homelessness facility funds, to name a few.
In the proposal, there are a few items deemed as paid for through cash payments, but the largest resource is General Obligation Bonds, to the tune of $1.890.898. Which if only this portion were to pass, it would be the state’s largest historic Bonding Bill. During the Question & Answer period, the governor was asked if he was prepared to support the passage of the bill, if it were to be mostly a cash option, which we strongly advocate, and he conveyed his believe, that many of these projects did not carry a partisan stripe because both Republican and DFLers all drink clean water and drive on our state roads, which consist of the fourth most mileage in the nation.
The negotiations and politics of Capital Investment are always interesting, the Republican House position, we have heard is $2.5 billion, but local projects are known to garner more greater support and this piece meal process is where the artistry occurs.
One thing is clear, the DFL Trifecta has the benefit of not needing any Republican votes to pass anything they want as long as they can get the Senate DFL members to agree universally. We expect this reality will also free up more Republican support just due to pragmatics.
As we have said before, and will reiterate again, no politician has ever won or lost an election of support or opposition to a Bonding Bill.
We have the opportunity to tour the 1900 Rice Street location to the St Paul Regionally Water Services and learned that the process from providing water without, color, taste, or smell is a very involved process, but also fairly rudimentary.
They draw water from Vadnais Lake, a body of water with a banned of boating or fishing, and which is fed from a pipeline from the Mississippi River. They then collect the water in 20 foot tanks called flocculators and add alum and quick lime to soften the water and form solids which are later removed and the resulting residuals are sold as agriculture applications.
The water is then recarbonized with CO2 and filtered with carbon, fluoridated, and disinfected with a combination of chloride and ammonium forming chloramine. The resulting water is pumped out daily through 1,200 miles of water mains to 450,000 people delivering 40 million gallons daily.
Currently, the site is in the midst of a large construction project, which will increase its capacity, but it is worth noting, the existing facility is over 100 years old, opening in 1914, and has been fully operational to the point of receiving a Presidential Award.
We may take for granted the water quality we receive anytime we turn of the facet, but also, we can fully understand the fact that this type of infrastructure is a significant factor in the quality-of-life issues we have here in our state and take for granted. This is a state, and regional asset worth preserving. As was noted during the presentations, our fore fathers had the wherewithal and foresight to plan for this, and paid for an enduring public asset which has survived the test of time, but still need improvement and ongoing maintenance.
Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) and Lt Governor Peggy Flanagan (DFL-MN) presented their budget recommendations for public and legislative scrutiny. During the course of the event, the emphasis was clearly on doing dramatic things at an unprecedented time, due to a $17.6 billion surplus.
The governor opened up with the concept of a budget not just being a financial document, but also a moral one. The three tenets and the costs being, Making Minnesota the Best state in the Country for Kids (FY 2024-24=$5.178 billion and FY 3037-27=$6.586 billion), Investing in Minnesota’s Economic Future (FY 2024-24=$3.176 billion and FY 3037-27=$1.839 billion), and Protecting the Health and Safety of Minnesotans (FY 2024-24=$2.238 billion and FY 3037-27=$1.115 billion) and (FY 2024-24=$6.037 billion and FY 3037-27=$178 million) for Other One Minnesota Priorities.
Each of these in some way, are positive socially as well as economically. The governor highlighted his budget contains the largest tax cut in Minnesota history, and if the items targeted to family support will reduce Child Poverty by as much as 25%.
This opportunity appears to be seen by the DFL administration, as poised at a historic moment and brings to mind the idea, if not us, then who, if not now, when? One of the components are the Walz Checks, which have been paired back and now entail $1,000 for a single filer and $2,000 for a couple with an addition of $200/per child up to three, or maximum of $2,600.
With a focus on in migration, we are reminded, on previous occasions, especially as a former Social Studies teacher, the governor has joked about recruiting teachers from other states, like Florida, where teachers can teach what they want to in their classrooms. They are betting of the idea of creating Minnesota as an attraction not just as a tourist destination but a place to live year-round, will bring together a more robust workforce, build an innovation destination and foster a quality community to raise a family in, are all aspects of what this budget entails.
During the questions and answer portion of the event, we sought a clear understanding of the total obligation of the proposed budget in regards to the existing surplus, with a clear understanding, that $12, billion was one-time money. We asked the governor and Commissioner Jim Schowalter the following.
C&B: The last time we were in this room (Conference Room of the Revenue Department) we learned of the $17.6 billion surplus; can you tell us how much of this does your budget consume? The best answer came from Schowalter who said, “It leaves $1.3 billion as carry forward.”
The proposal consists of $65.2 billion up from $52 billion in the current biennium.
Additionally, we asked Schowalter after the event what were the revenue raiser contained in the budget, to which he answered, “There’s a small list of revenue generators, Capital Gains.” (We will note this is projected at $661 million in FY 2024-25 and $606 million in FY 2026-27) At this point, Budget Director Ahna Minge stepped in and said, “There’s the two items that Commissioner Daubenberger, talked about. (Which are license tabs fee increases) Schowalter continued, “There’s the PFL which Commissioner Grove talked about and somethings in the DNR and DPS on the fee side.”
In its entirety the state is projected to receive an additional of $5.368 billion over the course of FY 2024-
We will also call attention to the potential revenue generated by legalization of cannabis and the early pay-off of the US Bank Stadium, which will amount an additional $30 million of revenue from paper and e-tabs each biennium, along with the potential for revenue from sports book.
By all accounts the economic health of the state is good, and likely even better that that, and we continue to out perform all of the states in our region and most across the United States.
Of course Republicans played their old saw, calling for tax cuts. To view their response, click here.
The reality check is clear, Republicans have no ability to stop, impede or redirect anything the DFL Majority wants to do in either chamber, accept draw things out during floor debates.
The governor will release his Capital Budget proposal on Thursday.
As we left the State Revenue Building and caught the Light Rail Transit back to the State Capitol, we were once again shocked at the unmitigated chaos on the train. As soon as we boarded, which we will point out was only the fourth stop on the line coming out of St Paul, we were met will a fog of drug smoke. The doors had shut so quickly we were not able to change our minds and get off of the train, but the visible effect was evident from the other passengers in the car. There are passengers who are smoking crushed Percocet from aluminum foil and inhaling through a straw.
We have written about this before. Why Doesn’t Metropolitan Police Chief Rick Grates, Do His Job?
This is creating a a population with no regard for others and they are just automatons, out for their own pleasure without regard for others, or better yet zombies.
Here are the response from LRT riders.
Now, this is ironic, because before we left the building, we buttonholed Metropolitan Council Commissioner Charles Zelle and engaged him about this problem, and shared the fact we believe the only way to address it was to put plainclothes officers on the train and not, men but rather women pushing strollers. In the strollers could be equipment to measure the air quality and the toxicity of the environment could be an escalator in the charges for the crime.
We’ll see how rapid Zelle’s response is, because we have called out the Metropolitan Police Chief Rick Grates to do his job. We also have had direct conversations with cops on platforms and have been told the problem is, the county attorneys are failing to prosecute the minor offenses. We believe that is just an excuse, because to stop this problem someone needs to have a crackdown and the train operator needs to report the activity, which is completely visible from the surveillance system in every car.
The State Office Building, finally opened its doors on Monday. Now, things are back to nearly a semblance of regular order. The Senate Office Building was opened up last legislative session under Republican control and remained so this legislative session, but the House floors were only available for people with scheduled appointments.
Because of the speed in which the legislature is moving, the Legislative Committee Deadlines might not be overly significant, but still worth noting. Announced on January 12, they are:
- 1st deadline – March 10, 2023.
- 2nd deadline – March 24, 2023.
- 3rd deadline – April 4, 2023 at 5:00pm.
We were fairly confident sparks were set to fly on the floor of the Senate yesterday and right we were. The proceedings took eight hours and the major bones of contention were offered up by former GOP House members who now have the luxury of a four-year term. It appears the term of art often used by those with experience in the other body as house trained, clearly doesn’t mean house broken.
Until there is a passage of Temporary Rules, the Senate operates by the Rules from the previous session.
Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson (R-01, East Grand Forks) challenged Senate Resolution 6, because it contained the composition of the Senate Committees. He and Senators Jim Abeler (R-35, Anoka), Rich Draheim (R-22, Madison Lake), Carla Nelson (R-24, Rochester) and others all criticized the parity on the different committees.
The crux of the issue is the mere 1 vote majority held by the DFL, is overweighed and not accurately reflected in the 2-3 vote majority on each committee. Abeler pointed out, taking into account the elections of Senators D Scott Dibble (DFL-61, Minneapolis), Omar Fateh (DFL-62, Minneapolis) and Zaynab Mohamed (DFL-63, Minneapolis) and extracting their vote totals then the overall support for DFL and Republican Senators would match up quite evenly. This generic ballot viewpoint has some merit, but the problem is to the victor goes the spoils.
Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (DFL-60, Minneapolis) has already conceded to seat an additional GOP member on three committees, which she didn’t identify, she is willing to consider more changes, but did say she will only do so after consultation with the respective committee chairs. She also spoke about the possibly of additional DFL members being added as well. Additionally, she referred to 2017, when Republicans took control of the chamber and they aligned the committees to their benefit.
Now, what does this mean, well unless the Republican Minority gets some relief, it could mean longer floor debates, more amendments and less comity from the GOP. Of course, there are procedural was to address this. As is done in the House, all amendments need to be received by the desk prior to a floor session, they could limit debate, along with other tactics, but it just means a longer process altogether.
Another Issue of concern is something we became accustomed to during the pandemic, which is remote session participation. During the discussion, Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (DFL-60, Minneapolis) talked about female members who had born children during their terms of office and the burden it placed on them, as well as members who had deaths in the family and the additional weight that imposed. Another factor is climate change and more dramatic weather events, coincidentally, there was a dramatic snowstorm underway when this debate ensued.
Now, we know, another factor is to ensure the 1 vote DFL Majority is not in jeopardy should any event occur, but this also shows the long-term effect of COVID and a factor in how it may change this institution. If this is instituted, we know the lobbying community will also be adversely affected, because they will not be able to pull members from off of the floor during debates. Senators may want to look to their colleagues on our southern border. In Iowa, the legislators list their cellphone numbers on their state webpage.
After initially failing, the Senate passed remote voting on a party line vote.
The challenges facing the Senate are much greater with a razor-thin majority which is not the case in the House, where the DFL retains a comfortable 6-vote majority.
We are hearing about the possibility of joint action on certain pieces of legislation in order to expedite their passage. In the legislative vernacular, these are call Pre-Conferred Bill. It has been a longtime since a piece of legislation, except a Conference Committee Bill entered and exited a chamber without amendment. With an intent to accelerate the speed of the process, House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-34B, Brooklyn Park) and Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (DFL-60, Minneapolis) are publicly discussing how to rapidly move items forward the electorate called has for.
Hortman a lawyer by profession, is talking about body autonomy for women’s health and HF0001 is described as Fundamental right to reproductive health established. This would codify the state Supreme Court Decision on abortion rights found in Doe v. Gomez.
We believe this will be a forerunner of other legislative pieces and through this procedure will advance certain legislative pieces, which normally would languish until the final package is known and all of the pieces are in place.
Seems like the operational process is about to get a facelift.
On Tuesday, entrants into the State Office Building were disappointed to find the doors to the legislative floors still closed to the public. This is directly opposite of the Senate, which remains as it was under Republican control open and accessible to all.
We understand this is supposed to change next week and lobbyists and constituents will be able to trod the halls without an appointment and finally, after three-years things should be back to regular order.
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