Governor Dayton announced last week – following months of attempts to negotiate with Republican leaders – that there would be no special session to pass the tax bill, bonding bill, or unfinished transportation bill from the 2016 legislative session.
While Governor Dayton made his terms clear, Republicans under Speaker Kurt Daudt’s leadership refused to consider funding the Southwest Light Rail, a project that would provide accessible public transportation between the suburbs and downtown Minneapolis and earn $895 million in federal matching dollars. The alternative to the light rail? More congested highways and cars on the road (which, with Daudt’s driving record, might not be the best for the Speaker). With no legislative action this year, the state could lose the matching funds from the Feds, putting the whole project in jeopardy.
While Republicans are trying to pin special session failure on “trains to Minneapolis,” they can’t deny that the reason for a special session in the first place was their legislative inaction. The House Republican majority spent the regular session doing very little to move forward on these issues, instead prioritizing things like defunding Planned Parenthood.
Rather than prioritizing an agenda to benefit all Minnesotans, Republicans are playing the blame game over one project. Speaker Daudt and Republicans can try to point fingers, but when Minnesotans ask what got done during their time in charge of the House, they won’t have much to say.