Capitol Report: Bonding for Improvements, Preventing Gun Violence
Capitol. Report is a production of Senate media services, on. This. Week's program the capital investments, chair weighs in on this year's bonding, bill a lawmaker, discusses, ways to prevent gun violence and we meet the Senate's newest member plus, GOP, priorities, and the budget forecast stay, tuned for this week's Capitol report. Welcome. To this week's program I'm Shannon Lurky 2018. As a bonding year at the legislature, and the state has received about three and a half billion dollars in requests, the Senate capital investments, committee recently finished, touring the state for an up-close look at some of the projects, joining, me in the studio is the chair of the capital investments, committee Senator, David Senjem welcome it's good to be here Shannon you. Just completed an extensive tour. Of the state were. You overwhelmed. By the over, 100. Well over 100, requests, that you looked at well. Perhaps. Overwhelming. Isn't isn't. Perhaps the word because we're. Getting used to it unfortunately as the case might be but. Yes. We saw we saw a lot of needs out there there's no question doubt we were out for 12 days. Fairly. Long days 7:30, in the morning until usually 7:30, 8:00 at o'clock at night and. Seeing. As, much as we could in a compressed sort of way we tried given. The budget. Situation legislature. We really tried to compress it and in. Many cases make make. A three-day, trip normally into two days and so on and so forth so we. Were fairly intensive, but that's good efficiency. Is fine. The. Request came for infrastructure, upgrades, asset preservation wastewater. Treatment and transportation. Projects did, you see any that are just an absolute. Slam dunk in terms of need, well sure. We've well. In. Terms of wastewater especially, and we'll probably talk a lot about this in the next couple of minutes but it is we have we have just grave, concerns. And in. Terribly. Difficult, situations. All over Minnesota respective, to wastewater, one. Little city Waldorf, Minnesota is for instance comes to mind. They are there they are almost. The crash mode there in terms of their. System is completely, outdated, nearly. Not functional, and, what it what is this little community, do, they they've, got a very very limited tax, base and so on and so forth but that's repeated, on and on and on as you as you talk to cities all across Minnesota, we've, got old systems, and they're they're antiquated they're worn out in, many cases they've crumbled, literally, pipes within the grounds have crumbled and. They. Just don't have the wherewithal to carry, on well, another city I wanted to bring up since we're talking about wastewater, is, the city of Windham which is I think 4,600. In population, southwest Minnesota they, have businesses, that want to locate there but their wastewater, treatment system cannot accommodate. The growth the economic, growth so as. You mentioned this is happening across the state will these places that can't grow or can't even. Get. Up to code well there'll be some priority, for, places, like that I think. So we did we did stop in Windham as for instance they they have situation. There where they've got some opportunities economically. And and. I think you know we want we want to plug into those not, not to say we don't want to take care of you know some of these others as well it don't have those opportunities but but certainly we're opportunity, to exist we need to plug in to them and try to make something work for those community because, we.
Want Jobs we want growth and and, if we can apply. The bonding bill in that direction you, know all the better. The. Governor last month released his one and a half billion dollar bonding, proposal, and you released a statement shortly after, that says his proposal quote, busts, the budget but, you also indicated a willingness to, invest in infrastructure, as you. Know the governor's I just pointed, more towards higher education, but but, in also transportation issues. Is there. At this point any agreement, between you, and the governor in terms of buying governor, and I haven't talked I'm, not sure if you talked to represent a route at all or not but we. Have not talked but that what that's that's not to say that we would. Have perhaps anyway, the. Governor proposes, we, go out and look at these projects, and if you will dispose in terms of putting, bills together and, there'll be a point in time and just process, where we'll come. Together and we'll have some conversations. About you. Know his specific interests. And certainly. Our bill. At that point in time and this, is a this. Is the art of compromise and, will I think, we'll find the end and it it will be just fine I'm, not terribly worried about where we are now in terms of conversation, we've got yet to put our bill together. Do. You imagine that there's going to be an effort to, spread. The, bonding dollars evenly. Across, geographic, areas well, sure we we always attempt. To do that the. Bonding bill is not only certainly. It. Has to be has to be geographic. In nature because every, taxpayer, in Minnesota, pays. A portion to. The. Whole bonding, process, literally, in terms of accepting. That debt and paying that debt off so we we, need to be fair about this in terms of geography we, also certainly need, to be fair about it in terms of bipartisanship. We. We cannot we and the Senate Republican, caucus cannot, pass, a bonding, bill we need 41, votes and so that's. Recognized, that's the that's the Constitution, of the state of Minnesota so, so. You, know we work together on this perhaps more than any other committee we work together in terms of trying to find that that bill that will work for all of us in, last year's bonding bill there. Was a significant. Amount of investment in transportation. Projects, do, you expect that to continue this year or would this simply. Be. Infrastructure. And capital investments. With little transportation, well it will await into the continent of transportation, as well and the governor will have to decide whether or not he wants to keep it in he's again. We, proposed he. With his line-item, veto had disposed but. The. The. Situations. Like highway 14, I mean how, many years are we talked about that. Almost. Certainly I can tell you that will be in our bill like I would be surprised, myself if it wasn't we've.
Got Highway 10 moving through Wadena. So. We have just all kind you know in situation, after situation the, world we've got a, few, well pinch points, or situations. That I think everybody knows there, had, and yeah we, don't seem to be able to get it done if, you will a normal way so let's, at least. Attempt. To do it through the capital. Investment process so, yes there will be transportation. In this bill well, in this question. I've. Heard from, the governor and from, the DFL caucus about the importance of asset preservation and, actually the Speaker of the House also talked about asset, preservation it's, not an exciting way to spend money on tuckpointing and, you know keeping the buildings standing. But Senator Bach mentioned, the possibility of creating a separate, bonding bill for. Preserving, the state's assets, what are your thoughts on maybe two bonding bills one for wastewater. Transportation. That. Kind of infrastructure and another simply, for asset preservation it. It's. Sort of a novel idea and actually we considered it back you know two thousand eleven or twelve one of those years, when. I was previously chairman, to. Do that it. There's. There's, there's something about bonding, you know everybody everybody, could agree on asset graduation, nope no question about it you know and, by the way we've got 54. Minsky of facilities, five University of Minnesota campuses. We've got 2,700, D in our buildings, I'm not sure how many do T buildings but on and on and on we have we, have loads and loads of infrastructure, all of which to, some degree, usually. Need some level of attention so, infrastructure. Is certainly going to be big in the bonding bill, there, are also other other projects, that are important to individual. Members that are beyond infrastructure, and so you, have to craft this thing so that in. Some cases, an. Important, project for a specific member may be not so important for anybody else is is. Able to be in that building OFI if we put all of those, personally. Interesting. Bills. And one, bill more, than likely it, would it would crash and crumble, and we'd get nowhere so I. Just.
Don't Think it works in the world we work in senator. Senjem, it's always a pleasure thank you okay. Thank you so much. State. Budget officials released, the latest economic, forecast showing a surplus of 329. Million, dollars following. The announcement the governor and legislative, leaders responded. To the news, however those projected, surpluses, are modest. 329. Million dollars, in this biennium and. 251. Million dollars in the next and, there. Are only projections. Which. Are certain to change especially. For the 2021. Biennium. They. Should caution all of us that, any changes, the, current tax laws and expenditure. Commitments, need. To have minimal net effects. Particularly. Since any ongoing changes, would. Double their fiscal impact, in the next two-year biennium. Compared. To the one remaining year of the current biennium I think. The job for the leaders probably got a little easier today you. Know we've all got our days on the hill and today there's a number of days on the hill thing and usually when people come here there are days on the hill thing they want, to advocate for more spending for what they're coming here to talk about I think the, fact that it's not pretty clear we have very little revenue. We'll, probably. Take. A little bit of excitement, out of some of the people coming or looking for additional funding and the in the second year of the biennium that, is what we're seeing in the numbers today we see a short term stimulus, but. Over the long term we will see inflation rise, and we. Can't ignore reality we can not, ignore, economists, just like we can't ignore, scientists. The numbers are clear we have to be cautious with our budgeting in three months, we've. Had one of the largest turnarounds. In a state revenue. Forecast, in in modern history. And, the. Difference what, happened. We. Did tax relief here at the state level and the, federal government did tax relief at the federal level we're focusing, on the things that I think matter for Minnesota, there, was a number of questions about what are we gonna do about tax conformity and, the, fact is we have to do that we have to conform and if we just conform as you've, heard on, average, it creates about five hundred million dollars a year that's. Money that we will use in when we're working through conformity. What are some of the other things that we need to do to. Make sure people don't have a tax increase. The. Recent mass shootings at, schools and public gatherings, have grabbed the attention of lawmakers throughout, the country Senator, Jeff Hayden who lost a sister to gun violence has proposed, a measure to help prevent gun violence and he now joins me, in the studio welcome. Thank you following. The horrific shooting in parkland Florida you, tweeted, quote I, hope that when the legislature, convenes, my, bill to study gun violence as a public, health crisis, is given a fair hearing, what. Do you mean what. What I mean is that we believe gun, violence, has escalated to, be a public health issue we've. Seen this in parkland, all the way back to Columbine, we saw it in Las Vegas we, saw the knee issue with my sister where she was caught in the crossfire of rival gangs as she was visiting the city of Atlanta, this, is something that has gone beyond just somebody, kind, of shooting somebody because they have a problem this is something that is really embedded in society. And this is a way in which people think that, they can handle their differences, if you look at some of the information that we know about the gentleman and in Florida. He. Had been crying out for help he had been he, had been referred, he had been he had been telling me we've been on YouTube, professing. That this is what he's gonna do what was a cry for help and. We weren't there to. Try to help manage that price that that crisis, and we saw what happened how, much is mental, health the Republicans, including President Trump are pointing to mental, health as part of the underlying reason, for these mass shootings is, how.
Much Of a mental health crisis, is it or how much of it just a societal problem in general well. I mean I think people, need I'm, a proponent. Of getting people to mental and behavioral health that they need and. I've had plenty of bills and plenty of appropriations. That have done that but. It also rises, to much bigger issue and that's what we talk about public health we have to treat this in the same way we treat the measles we. Have to treat this in the same way that, we treated polio, we, have to really get at the issue of that and essentially. Unoccupied, people, and what I mean by that is can't give them a shot to stop shooting people but we can become aware of the issues that they're having we can become, aware of how, guns have permeated our society, so one we, need to be able to restrict you, know. To have assault weapons at a young age the, bump stocks we, need to be able to do the right kind of background checks get rid of the loophole but, we also need to go into communities, and be able to talk to people. In my community it's really talking about the urban community but, in schools we really need to talk to kids and young folks and when they have, signal, that there might be some issues we really need to intervene. Your. Bill that Taylor hadn't Hayden, Gun Violence. Prevention Act. Would. Provide grant money to nonprofits. To work on gun prevention, is that all that it would do or is there more than that you know we really wanted. To have a conversation and, get the best ideas from, the experts around the table which is why we want to have a hearing I really. Think that then you get really really smart people to come to the table and say what has worked what's the best practices, get, the Department of Health involved, you know we've done that with menthol. And menthol. Tobacco and I did some work on that a couple of years ago that, got an education out, there that people who says what is menthol cigarettes do to people and we got a cross coalition, of young, and old folks in the african-american community to really understand, that and then move on some restrictions, and some of the local municipalities. This, is the same thing let's get people together let's, get folks talking, and let's figure out if we can intervene, and especially. Young people's life so that they don't use guns as their kind of way to get back at society. You, know there seems to be agreement that our society. Does. Not adequately, address, mental health and yet there was it was just in the news this week that a pediatric, facility, is wanting, to open in Forest Lake and the Forest Lake City Council has delayed a vote on whether it. Can be located there there's some pushback from the community, there, there seems to be a desire for. More mental health and yet there's communities, that don't want it in their. Community, so how, do we tackle that in terms of the mental health piece in in. This crisis, that we're facing well I think that there's a stigma associated with mental health and, I think that people think that if you have a mental health facility that. Somehow people are gonna go there and do bad things in their community, and it's really just the opposite it's really gonna serve their community, it's gonna get to that young person that's struggling it's gonna get to the older person that's struggling in, this case there's a juvenile facility bring.
Those Young people in get the therapy that they want in a setting that really, works well and. And and move them forward so I think people. In all across the state have to think about if they want this they, have to kind of not have that not, my backyard mentality. And be able to take their fair share of these issues we, have plenty of those facilities in my district, but not everybody wants to come to South Minneapolis so. To put an enforced lake or Duluth or wilmer wherever. We know that people are mental. Health does not discriminate, it's, everybody, is affected by it everybody, knows somebody in their family so, I would hope that the force like City Council and the folks there it. Looks like it's a very nice facility very, reputable organization. Very, well designed and that they would change their minds and that we could get those types of facilities throughout, the state this. Week the Senate Republicans. Outlined. Their. 2018. Priorities. For for the legislative, session one. Of those priorities is school safety because of the shooting in Florida senator Carla Nelson has proposed additional, funding for school safety to. Be used as the school district see fit for. May be upgrading, facilities bulletproof. Glass, or even hiring security to work what. Are your thoughts on this strategy at least for protecting, school, children I, think, that whatever school districts, think that they need to do in order to protect them we, should be able to support, them in which to do it what, I would hope though is that we will look at this comprehensively. It's, okay so we arm and, we lock down schools, and we create these kind of virtual, sites that's, impenetrable. But the kids have to leave the. Kids have to go to the bus stop the, kids have to go home so. If, we don't kind of look at this as a mental. Mental, health and a public health issue we start, talking about who. Is doing this why are they doing this and getting them the help and the support that they need you. Can as much as I would like to make, sure when my daughter goes school every day I could follow a to school stay, in school and follow her home I can and. It doesn't work that way so I want, kids to be protected, in schools and whatever they, see fit, but then what is Senator Nelson was the GOP want to do when the kids leave school are when they're on the bus when, they go home and, when they go to the football game when they play so. We, really got to have a much broader strategy than this and and, really not politicizes. Really not be knee-jerk about this. Senator. Hayden it's always a pleasure thank you so much thank you I appreciate it. The. Senate Republicans, gathered this week at the State Capitol to announce their 2018. Legislative. Priorities, there's. Basically three areas, that we're going to focus on and then there'll be more to, come beside that one is how, do we conform to the federal tax bill in, a way that Minnesota wins and Senator Chamberlain will talk about that what. Do we do about caring. For Minnesota, and, that'll be an, agenda piece that focuses, on a number of areas how. Do we show that we care for Minnesotans. And so you'll see that rolled out today and then, we, know that we need to do an infrastructure, bill and the, new federal tax bill gives us and Minnesota great opportunity, to. Work for Minnesotans. To. Protect. Their wages to simplify, the tax code and, to grow the economy and. Not just to be competitive with our neighboring states, but frankly with states across the nation I would like to be standing up here today talking to you about, how we're going to prepare all our kids for. The, 21st century jobs, through things like early, literacy, and, stem. And dual enrollment and. Digital. Learning but, the fact of the matter is today, we. Need to stand here, today and, we need to start to, figure out how, we can keep our kiddos, safe at our schools article. 1 section 1, of the Minnesota Constitution says, that we will protect our people and this, did not happen the Department, of Health failed in protecting our elderly, this. Is going to end, when. We, give. Money. To state agencies, particularly. In, the, IT. Services. Section. That. Somehow the legislature. Keeps a. Handle. Or a hand, within and on, the.
Money And, watches. How is it it is to be spent City. After City after city has. To waste water infrastructure, that, crumbling, that's, not compliant, they. Have tax bases in many of these cities that frankly, aren't able to accommodate, the financial, needs associated. With repairing them so, they, come to the altar of state government, I think we've generally accepted. That fact now, and, we're going to have to go out and and help, them to the extent we can. A. Vigorous. Campaign in the special election to fill Senate, district 54 which. Encompasses, parts of Afton Cottage Grove Hastings. Newport, st. Paul Park and South st. Paul resulted. In the election of my next guest senator, Carla Bingham now joins me in the studio welcome, thank, you for having me judging. By your Twitter feed you. Did a lot of door-knocking in this short campaign sure, did what did you hear from your constituents, a lot, you, know a lot of people were. Talking about how the Capitol. And the legislature, needs, to work together, across. The aisle. Bicameral. II with the governor people, definitely. Remember, special, sessions and shutdowns, and they don't like them there, needs to be a change in culture more, ways than one at the Capitol and and I really feel that coming, from a local level of government working. On issues that really shouldn't be partisan I mean if you think about transportation, education. Health care environment. Veterans, Affairs these. Shouldn't be partisan, issues, so we should be able to get things done and that's what the voters said and that's what they expect and that was really the number one thing that you heard everywhere, they went yeah you, served in the house so you're not new to the legislature, from 2007. To 2011. Prior. To that you remember of the Cottage Grove City, Council, you served on several commissions, public. Service is important, to you your, most recent, position, was, on the Washington County Board of Commissioners why. Leave that position for the Senate you, know over the, the, my tenure on the, county board and, on the City Council one thing was very apparent that the state continues. To push their responsibilities. And their, burdens on to local governments, whether it's education, funding, whether it's unfunded, mandates, from the. State on to the counties and the cities and that's, not right I mean the state needs to take care of their. Part. Of the deal when when we're providing services. That are needed, for our residents, and, there may be no argument that county government is where it's at and that that's who should be administering, these programs but, you're better doing well pay for it because otherwise counties. And city. Only. Have property taxes, to, cover, the, the Delta, the difference, it necessary, to, keep up with the growth and, you. Know inflation, in, a lot of these costs, and and we are growing area, especially my area one of the fastest growing Washington. And Dakota counties are one. Of the fastest growing areas in the state so, in a sense are you in favor of more, local control yeah, I really. Feel that you. Know the cities and the counties and the school districts. Understand. You, know how to how, to handle and. Anticipate, that growth so I definitely think having them at the table, it's. It's more about a partnership, because you, know we all do better when we all do better and I think that our. System, yes and, so I I think that you. Know we need to work. With our local governments, our businesses. And really. Come together and and. Do good things for Minnesota, when. You announced your candidacy, you. Said, in a statement quote, the public's trust in government and specifically, in the Minnesota Legislature, is at an all-time low you, sort of talked about that, can, you say a little bit more about, that, when. When you look at the resignations, when you look at the the shutdowns, when you look at the special sessions I think, there's, no doubt that that. Residents. And voters are frustrated, and. We. Need to come up here and we need to increase transparency, we. Need to, make. Sure that we're, listening to folks and that, we are answering. Their concerns, and in, dealing with the problems that they're facing every, day as a county commissioner I dealt with things like the opioid, epidemic mental. Health crisis, addiction, foster. Families. Child, protection all these issues that are facing our communities, and we.
Need To work together to, restore that trust because, these are the things that they're seeing but yet at times they don't feel that the legislature, is handling those, issues, in. You, know a timely, fashion. This again, I'll say this isn't about Democrat or Republican this, is about Minnesota, and this, is about making sure that these issues that are our communities, are handled and dealt with in a, manner that really should not be partisan so, what I'm really hearing is a commitment, to working bipartisanly. As much as possible absolutely. In. The house let's just turn briefly to some of your legislative experience you served on Public Safety state government Veterans Affairs yes in the, Senate you will, now be a member of the veterans and military affairs, committee as well, as Environment, and Natural Resources, this. Common thread that, I see here is the Veterans Affairs why is that important. To you well one I'm the daughter of a sailor and a granddaughter of, a, soldier and so veterans. Issues. Have always been a very big. Part of my family but of our community, it is the right thing to do these brave men and women serve, our country and. Protect, our freedoms, and we ought to make sure that, they're. Taken care of abroad, and when they come home and not only that but their families so I'm committed, to working on on those issues that really. Provide. For our veterans, in, the. With. Military affairs I mean that's a big you. Know part of the state government you know making sure that we're protecting our. State, and so we just have to make sure that you. Know we're, tackling, any issues that they're, facing. And we have the armory and in Cottage Grove I would actually like to see that fixed, up a little bit so. We're going to take a look at that but. I just look forward to getting back and, really focusing, on those issues again I will say as a former county commissioner veterans.
Service Officers are a. Major, part, of County government and we're, also seeing an increase, in cases, and. Requests for services, and so we again goes back to that growth thing that I was just talking the growth issue that I was talking about and so we have to make sure that we're keeping up with making. Sure that our veterans are taken care of we, have the. Veteran. Home in in, Hastings. I'm, going to be touring that and so. I mean we have a lot of. Good. Services. And. You. Know ability to to really provide for our veterans especially in my district, one. Final question I in, the news last week 3m reached a settlement with the state create, hundred and fifty million dollars over groundwater, contamination. In your view is this a winter loss for Minnesota and for your constituents specifically. Which is right next to that area where they were talking about the ending you know it's I've. Been dealing with this issue since I became a state representative and it's it's followed all the way up until you, know the settlement I would. Say, you. Know I. Worry. About the long-term effects, I worry about the health effects I worry about that the plume you, know the pollution plume moving, and it is moving and who's, gonna be on the hook for that now I've been told that you know the consent, agreement covers, you know the future things as well this. Is for, the community to be able to make, sure that they're, not on the hook the taxpayers aren't on the hook is, a good thing I don't know that it'll be enough well. We'll have to continue, to watch that and be and please, watch we're gonna have some legislation, to make sure that the communities, affected are, taken care of senator. Begum it's such a pleasure to meet you and thank you so much thank you for having me. Join. Us again next week as we delve into more topics, affecting Minnesotans. I'm Shannon Lurky and on behalf of all of us at senate media services, thanks. For watching.