Legislative session adjourns leaving work unfinished

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Picture of Minnesota state capitol

On Sunday, May 22, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned its 2022 regular session. Unfortunately, lawmakers left the Capitol having accomplished no major spending or tax bills, as a final-week “framework agreement” proved too difficult to actually achieve.

What makes this outcome especially disappointing is that many key items had actually been agreed to – including an omnibus climate and energy bill that would have made important investments in Minnesota’s future.

Among the energy and climate provisions that were agreed to, but ultimately not passed into law:

  • $25 million for a state competitiveness fund to match federal funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
  • $16.35 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program, including significant new support for workforce training and pre-weatherization activities
  • $15.95 million for Minnesota’s wildly successful Solar on Schools program
  • An additional $20 million for Xcel Energy’s Solar Rewards program

In addition to the agreed-upon climate and energy package, a number of additional bills were still being negotiated at the time of adjournment. Among the most significant was a transportation spending package which, earlier in the week, had been agreed to in principle by legislative leaders and the Governor.

By failing to complete this package, Minnesota has put billions of dollars in Federal infrastructure investments in roads and bridges, transit, electric vehicle charging, and other infrastructure needs at serious risk of being lost.

In the sports world, something like this is referred to as an “own goal”—simply one of the most embarrassing failures conceivable.

Senate Majority Leader Miller, Speaker Hortman, and Governor Walz can still save this dire situation—by agreeing to a special session that includes fully matching all Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds as well as passage of previously agreed-upon spending bills. Fresh Energy’s Executive Director Michael Noble called for exactly that outcome in a recent statement.

Of course, even if a special session is called success is only possible if all participants are committed to achieving an outcome that best serves the interests of all Minnesotans. There is no scenario where the public interest is served by the state failing to maximize the historic opportunity presented by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Minnesota is a net contributor to the federal government. Should Minnesota fail to meet the minimum requirements to unlock these funds, Minnesota’s portion will be reallocated to other states. In other words, Minnesota taxpayer dollars will go to projects outside of our state. The only question is whether Minnesota will receive its fair share, and that is up to our state’s leaders.