At the Capitol for Scott: small wins, big worries

  • Article by: TONY WAGNER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2014 - 1:54 PM

A post-session briefing had lawmakers, civic leaders anxious on parks and roads.

Scott County won some small victories at the Legislature this session, but officials are casting a wary eye toward future funding for parks and transportation.

Legislators recapped the session a few days ago with civic leaders who take part in what’s called the Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency (SCALE).Bottom line:

“There was no damage done,” said the county’s legislative coordinator Claire Robling, a former state senator. “There were some good things that happened specifically for the county.”

The county’s overarching goals included taxes, transportation and water management.It supported a tax increment financing district in Savage, to help develop a major site that is now being mined. That passed this session after a bill failed last session.

“That was a definite win,” said Rep. Pam Myhra, R-Burnsville.

pointed to e,for the group, and State Sen. Kevin Dahle of Northfield, the only Democratic lawmaker attending, praised tax hikes passed this session and told the group they would stabilize state finances. Dahle also touted the minimum wage increase as a boon to the county’s economy, and highlighted additional funding for early childhood education.a the top Reon the House tBeard praised the transportation bill passed this session and said improvements are possible without additional taxes. He cited Move Minnesota, an advocacy coalition whose proposal for a three-quarter cent sales tax and $750 million transportation bill floundered at the Legislature this session. a self-imposed, maximum of. There’ve been proposals to force Scott and Carver counties into the five-county which would mean a sales tax hike. the county is opposedat money would likely such aswouldn’t directly.The county is also concerned with the way parks funding was distributed this session, Robling said. SCALE supported a $10.5 million bonding request for parks, but the Metropolitan Council was awarded $4 million. Several counties funded projects with direct appeals to the Legislature, Robling said, draining the available funds.“We’ve always played the game the way we were supposed to,” Robling said. Moving forward, she said Scott County will reassess its strategy for requesting parks funding.Scott County also supported streamlined water management statewide, with less bureaucracy. The county supported the dissolution of the Minnesota River Board, which did move forward.

Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, said he was disappointed in the session overall but noted a bipartisan conservation bill he co-authored and introduced at the end of the session. “We need to recognize that there’s a symbiotic relationship between communities and their lakes, particularly Prior Lake,” Albright said. “We need to make sure we’re addressing that front and center.”One win on taxes that did get mentioned: -and that did pass, though it won’t tillSen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said he’d prefer that the exemptions take effect right away, when the money could be put to good use as the county grows.

Tony Wagner is a freelance writer.

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