Nancy Edmonds Hanson
“I would love to come to you with really good news … but I don’t have any at all,” Lisa Bode told the Moorhead City Council Monday.
Bode, the city’s governmental affairs director, addressed the council less than 24 hours after the Minnesota Legislature adjourned at 11:59 p.m. May 22 without taking action on the state’s budget and bonding bills.
As of Monday, the two major tax and spending bills that most affect Moorhead were left on the table. Despite the support of local legislators and a recent trip to St. Paul by city leaders to make their case, major issues that would affect the city were in limbo as of early this week.
Bode said, “Everyone on the (legislative) committees knew what Moorhead needed. As of Sunday afternoon, it still looked promising. The governor and the House say they’re ready to go back to work to finish this, but the leader of the Senate wants to go home and think about it.”
She cited several points in the tax bill that she said would be especially advantageous to Moorhead’s competitiveness with its neighbor to the west, among them an end to taxing Social Security benefits, a simplified renter’s credit program and child care credits, all part of $4 billion in tax cuts.
The $1.4 billion bonding bill that failed to come up for a final vote included the final segment of the city’s flood control project. “We haven’t even seen a draft of that bill, though Moorhead has a stake in it,” she said.
Legislators also failed to address the city’s request to adjust Moorhead request to extend the pay-back period for the local sales tax on which residents will vote in November. The proposed downtown community center and library is to be funded by that vote; the technicality that the city requested would add 8 years to the 22-year period in which the bond would be repaid, an issue that has become more pressing with the prospect of rising interest rates.
At press time, no agreement had been reached on whether or not to call a special session.
Bode concluded with a small but hopeful note: “All I have for you is bad news … except for this potentially positive observation. Moorhead is well positioned … if, and when, they do go back to work.”