Clay County Lawmakers & Gov. Walz Praise 2019 Session as a Compromise
MOORHEAD, Minn. – Gov. Tim Walz and local lawmakers discuss the impact of this years session.
The Democrats believe they were able to reach across the aisle to get things done.
“It was a good session. Maybe not perfect in my view, but it never will be and it never should be,” DFL State Sen. Kent Eken of Twin Valley said.
Minnesota is in a unique position as it has the only divided legislature in the country. Gov. Walz and legislators from Clay County say the best way to get bills passed is to compromise. That includes people not getting everything they want.
“My protip of the day is don’t run for office saying you’re going to raise the gas tax. It’s not super popular to tell people that. As it turned out in the session, that was not the direction people wanted to go,” Walz explained.
There were plenty of things Northwest Minnesotans care about that were touched on in St. Paul.
“We also got a policy done that is going to help out border city nursing homes to better compete on the reimbursements with the North Dakota facilities,” DFL State Rep. Ben Lien of Moorhead said.
“There is the first income tax rate cut in 20 years. We also have a $50 million property tax cut on our statewide property tax. That will help businesses in this area,” DFL State Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth, the House Tax Committee Chairman said.
The new tax bill has a tax credit of 40% for farmstead properties applied to taxes on school district bonded debt levies. The credit will increase to 50% next year and continue up to 70% in 2023. It’s estimated the credit increase will give up to $44 million in property tax relief by 2023.
There are also things left undone.
“Everyone acknowledges we’re falling way behind in transportation funding. We need at least $6 billion over the next 10 years in funding just to maintain and fix what we currently have. We’re not even talking about new projects,” Eken explained.
Some were upset major negotiations on the budget at the end of the session were made in private between Walz and legislative leaders. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who was not part of the conversations, called it “the least productive and least transparent session in the history of this state.” Walz disagrees.
“There’s folks who can’t compromise in public. Some of the cases are nobody wants to really see the sausage making. That was a strategy that was the way I thought was the best way to make it work,” Walz said.
As for how the nation should look at Minnesota lawmakers and their compromises?
“I think it sets a good example for the rest of the country and for Congress in particular,” Eken said.
After the event, Walz was joined by Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum to talk about completing the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion.