FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 23, 2016
Katie Fulkerson, 651-296-5133
Senate DFL brings session to a halt over light rail spending
(St. Paul, MN…) The 2016 Minnesota legislative session came to a crashing end Sunday night as Senate Democrats broke their word with a last minute attempt to add a light rail transit provision to the borrowing bill. The amendment offered by Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) killed the entire bill which included $700 million in road and bridge funding as well as other public works constructions projects across the state. Sen. Latz and six other liberal DFL senators had previously sent a letter to legislative leaders threatening to take down any borrowing bill that did not include funding for light rail transit.
“There is only one reason we don’t have a transportation and borrowing bill this year – Democrats sacrificed hundreds of other worthy projects because they didn’t get funding for light rail transit,” said Senate Republican Leader David Hann (R-Eden Prairie). “Republicans will continue to make roads and bridges a state priority and perhaps it’s time for the public to break this stalemate.”
“After starting the session with a $900 million surplus, Senate Democrats failed to deliver on a transportation package, spent more money on state government than on tax relief and did nothing to address the rising costs of healthcare,” said Hann.
Since the legislature failed to pass a tax bill last year, the $190 million in tax relief per year represents 19% of the 2015 surplus of $2 billion. The Senate DFL and Gov. Mark Dayton spent the other 81%. And the Senate DFL once again failed to deliver a transportation plan because they insisted on raising the gas tax again in order to pay for costly new light rail transit.
Meanwhile, nothing was done this session to address the most pressing problem in state government – the rising cost of healthcare, specifically the failing MNsure program. Thousands of families are still struggling with problems ranging from poor customer service to actually dying while waiting for treatment.
“Every time we turn around, Minnesotans get more bad news about healthcare,” said Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake). “Obamacare promised that if you liked your plan, you could keep your plan, and if you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor. Instead, Minnesotans have lost their plans, lost their doctors, have fewer insurance options, and are paying more than ever before.”