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Hopkins Legislators Glad Shutdown Over, Unhappy With Legislation

Both say state is delaying the inevitable.

“Disappointing.”

“Irresponsible.”

That was the overall reaction from Hopkins legislators toward the legislation that concluded the state government shutdown.

Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-District 44A) and Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-District 44) are glad the shutdown is in the past but unhappy with the way the final budget relies so heavily on cuts and borrowing.

“This is regrettable because there were better ways to do this fiscally,” Latz said. “The reduction is two-thirds cuts and one-third borrowing, and to me, this is like paying your bills with a very high interest credit card.”

Simon called borrowing from the state’s tobacco fund and delaying part of the line-item budget for public schools a “fiscally irresponsible path that is only going to make matters worse down the road.

“Right now, we have surpassed California in terms of delaying payments to schools,” he said. “Currently, California is holding back 19 percent of what they originally allocated for education and Minnesota will be holding back 40 percent. School districts in the state are going to have to turn to reserves, bank loans and, of course, property taxes to make up the difference.”

Latz did see some silver lining and voted for a few of the bills that came out of the compromise between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislative leaders.

“I supported the public safety and legacy bills as well as the capital investment (bonding) bill which will fund the new physics building and other facilities improvements at the University of Minnesota and the creation of the railroad switching yards in McLeod County which gets rid of the use of sidings for switching which have taken place in cities like Hopkins and Minnetonka,” said Latz, who also voted for the pension bill.

Still both men lament that the outcome is not what they wanted.

“Many of the newly-elected members came in saying they were going to do things differently and be good stewards of the state budget,” Simon said. “But they resorted back to one-time gimmicky shifts.”

***

How did they vote?

Bill Latz Simon Final tally (Senate/House) Judiciary/Public Safety Yes No  57-7/77-51 Environment No No 43-22/71-57 Jobs and Economic Growth No No 42-23/76-50 Transportation No No 38-27/71-56 Higher education  No No 35-30/71-57 Health & Human Services  No No 37-27/71-57 K-12 education  No No 36-28/71-56 State Government No No 40-24/81-47 Legacy  Yes No 65-0/98-30 Pension Yes Yes 61-3/115-12 Taxes No No 37-27/71-57 Bonding Yes Yes 53-11/112-17

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