Special session out for tax cuts, construction projects, but health insurance aid might still arrive
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans counting on tax cuts or state construction projects will be disappointed, but those who signed up for pricey individual health insurance policies can maintain a sliver of hope the state will help them afford premiums.No ag...
ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans counting on tax cuts or state construction projects will be disappointed, but those who signed up for pricey individual health insurance policies can maintain a sliver of hope the state will help them afford premiums.
No agreements were reached between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders Thursday, Dec. 15, so a tax bill and public works funding measure will not be considered if there is a special session next week. And, Dayton said, time runs out at noon Friday to reach a deal on providing financial aid to people whose health insurance policy rates are rising up to 67 percent.
"They absolutely turned their backs on greater Minnesota," Dayton said of House Republicans who enlarged their majority in last month's elections, mostly based on good performances outside of the Twin Cities.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota lobbied for a special session because it would have given its member cities a $20 million bump in state aid, fund job-producing construction projects and cut taxes for some residents.
As one example of what will not happen, Dayton said that the Lewis and Clark water project in southwestern Minnesota will be delayed. "That is the kind of project enormously important to greater Minnesota."
The chairman of the House committee that deals with such projects, funded by the state selling bonds, said it is doubtful that a major bonding bill will arise in the 2017 legislative session. Chairman Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said in an interview that large bonding bills typically do not pass when lawmakers draw up the state budget, like will happen in 2017.
He said that he would be very surprised if legislators approve a bill anything like the $1 billion one they failed to pass in the final minutes of their 2016 session.
House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, wrote to Dayton at noon Thursday, five hours before the agreed-to deadline for finish special session bills, complaining that a Tuesday Dayton letter indicated "drastic changes to the tax bill that showed significant departure from the progress I thought we had made. ... This week you took a step backward, undoing months of work by all parties."
They also disputed what had been agreed to spend on public works projects.
Dayton extended his deadline for a special session decision on the health insurance issue until noon Friday. All sides have said they want to help people who pay skyrocketing premiums when they buy policies from the individual market (most Minnesotans get health care from employers or the government). But they have not agreed on specifics for a special session, but even if one is not called in December the issue could come up after lawmakers start their 2017 session on Jan. 3.