Some (But Not Much) Movement. The omnibus supplemental funding bill conference committee met Sunday night and approved a number of provisions, mostly those that are either the same in each bill or quite similar. There were a few provisions approved that were not in both bills, but they fall into the category of non-controversial.
The big news today was the Governor's presentation of two proposals to try to break the logjam on the transportation issue. One with a gas tax increase of 5 cents per gallon and one with no gas tax increase. The House has made it clear that they will not pass a transportation funding bill that contains a gas tax increase, which puts all eyes on the Governor's second proposal. Both proposals raise license tab fees considerably (increases which the House has voiced concern over) and also use general fund revenue to fund highway projects. Both proposals come at $600 million for roads and bridges and $280 million for transit on an annual basis for ten years. The problem is that the hit to the general fund is $200 million per year and that revenue could be used for a variety of purposes that could rely on general fund revenue--including education.
Here is a link to the Governor's proposals: Governor Dayton's Transportation Proposals
In other developments, a "shell" vehicle has been found that could accommodate a bonding bill. A "shell" vehicle is a bill passed by one body, but sitting idle in the other. That means a Senate file passed by the Senate and sitting in a House committee (or on the House floor) or vice-versa. The bill is then amended with pre-agreed provisions and passed by the body. Because the bill has been amended, the bill has to be re-passed by the house of origin before it can be sent to the Governor for signature. I just bet none of you ever had this described in your high school civics class. The bonding bill was one of the most oft-stated goals of the Legislature this year and so I would not be surprised if something got done. Of course, it will have to get done quickly.
It's a little after 10 PM right now and I'm waiting to see if the conference committee will convene this evening. House is taking up a number of bills on the floor and we may have to wait until tomorrow for the excitement to pick up again.