Davids, Miller pleased with bonding bill passage

By : 
Spring Valley Tribune

After vetoing a supplemental spending bill and a tax-conformity bill sent to his desk by the Minnesota Legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton reversed course last week and signed the 2018 bonding bill.

State Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, and state Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, were both pleased with that outcome, noting the bill has several benefits for southeastern Minnesota, and the entire state. The bonding bill will fund several infrastructure projects around Minnesota.

“The biggest benefit for southeast Minnesota and Fillmore County is funding for a new veterans’ home in Preston,” said Davids, a Republican who represents District 28B. “We also included funding for the Harmony-Iowa Border Trail, which was necessary and timely, because the options to buy some of the land for the trail will run out in 2019. The bill also funds the Wagon Wheel Trail in La Crescent. Overall, it was a very successful year for southeast Minnesota in the bonding bill.”

Miller, a District 28 Republican, said the state bonding bill was a critical piece of legislation, not only for the state, but for southeastern Minnesota.

Crafting the bonding bill required a lot of cooperation between the state’s Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature. The bonding bill authorizes the state to issue debt for capital investment projects. For the state to issue debt, the bonding bill needs a “super-majority” in both the House and Senate, as well as the governor’s signature.

Davids said the veterans home funding for Preston was an idea that originally began in Rushford, thanks to longtime veterans’ advocate Maynard LaFleur. Davids said that, while he helped to secure funding, credit for the actual idea of a veterans’ home in southeast Minnesota belongs to LaFleur.

According to Davids, the veterans’ facility, which still needs federal approval, will be a 72-bed home based in Preston. The home will include a center-area, which will have meeting areas, a cafeteria, and a kitchen in the middle. Four 18-room pods will each branch out from the central area.

“Rep. Davids and I have been working on the veterans’ home project in Fillmore County for several years, and local folks in the county have been instrumental in pushing this project forward,” Miller said. “It’s a multi-step project to get a home fully-funded.  First, you need support and funding at the local and state levels, which we have. The next step is to apply for funding at the federal level. If this project is selected for federal funding, then the veterans’ home becomes a reality in southeast Minnesota.

Both Miller and Davids admitted that they were surprised that Gov. Dayton signed the bonding bill after vetoing the other two major bills that came out of the legislature.

Davids, who has maintained the governor should have signed all three bills, said, “I think there may be a little ‘veto remorse’ going on there, because the governor realizes he should have signed the tax bill, which featured $225 million in emergency education money, much more than the $138 million he requested. Apparently, he was very close to vetoing the bonding bill as well. However, he did sign it and I thank the governor for that. Southeast Minnesota has road-and-bridge money included in the bill, as well as Public Facilities Authority Money, and RFA money for things like sewers and water towers in small cities.”

Miller thought for sure that the governor would sign the supplemental budget bill, as well as the tax bill. After they were vetoed, he also expected that Gov. Dayton would veto the bonding bill, as well, but is very happy the legislation has been signed into law. From a personal standpoint, Miller said it makes the hard work that went into this year’s session worth the effort.

“The Legislature worked very hard to put bipartisan bills on the governor’s desk, and that’s what we did with both vetoed bills,” Miller said. “While it was very disappointing that the governor vetoed the first two bills, I was very happy to see that he signed the bonding bill into law.”