Rochester, MN Lawmakers, Leaders React to 2023 Session
The DFL, which held the majority in both the Minnesota House and Senate sent a record-breaking $72 billion state budget to Gov. Tim Walz after gaveling out of session about two hours before deadline Monday night. Some notable items included in the two-year budget are healthcare staffing legislation, a new tax bill, and a record-breaking $2.6 billion infrastructure package.
Health Care Staffing Legislation
The closing days of the session were marked by a standoff among lawmakers and the Mayo Clinic regarding two nurse staffing measures that Mayo warned would jeopardize planned investments in Minnesota if they were to become law. Lawmakers initially agreed to exempt Mayo from the proposals in conference committee then passed a watered-down version of the bill that excluded hospital staffing committees with nurse representations at all hospitals in the state.
Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia released the following statement at the conclusion of the session:
Throughout the legislative session, Mayo Clinic remained steadfast in our position to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of our patients and staff and lead the transformation of health care. Mayo Clinic would like to express our gratitude to everyone who embraced that commitment with us.
In particular, we are thankful to Gov. Walz and his team for their exceptional partnership and leadership. Gov. Walz, Speaker Hortman and Majority Leader Dziedzic have expressed firm support for Mayo Clinic and for our desire to grow and invest in health care and our communities. We share the goal of making Minnesota the state that leads the future transformation of health care.
We remain grateful for our nurses, and all health care workers, who serve patients with dedication and compassion every day. We share the governor’s and legislature’s commitment to continue addressing the challenges facing nurses — including nationwide staffing shortages and increasing violence against health care workers — just as we remain committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation to cure, connect and transform health care for patients in Minnesota and around the world.
The tax bill included a provision to allow the City of Rochester to ask voters to renew the city’s 0.5% sales tax. Rochester leaders thanked lawmakers for the approval. The City has proposed using the revenues to address affordable housing issues, rotor projects and maintenance, and construct a $65 million recreational facility. The plan calls for the proposals to be presented to Rochester voters as three separate referendums at a future election.
“We want to thank our local lawmakers and extend our appreciation for their work and dedication to Rochester and our region. We are very grateful to our bipartisan legislative delegation for their support on many of the priorities important to the city and community this session,” City Administrator Alison Zelms said in a statement.
The $2.6 billion infrastructure package allocates $5 million towards a project construct an interchange at the intersection of Hwy. 14 and Olmsted County Rd. 44 between Rochester and Byron. The project has an estimated price tag over $84 million, according to a presentation of the bill back in April.
The historic legislation also allocates state dollars to fund the Rochester Community and Technical College Heintz Center Design, Willow Creek Trail, Olmsted County Pollution Control, Rochester Park-and-Ride Design, Olmsted Graham Park Redevelopment, City of Rochester Regional Parks, Children’s Museum of Rochester, Flood Hazard protection for Kasson, Root River State Trail, Chester woods Trail, North Zumbro Sanitary District.The bill sends $23 million to help fund in projects to Olmsted County.
Rochester GOP Sen. Carla Nelson released the following statement regarding the infrastructure package:
I am rejoicing for the partial funding for the Highway 14/44 interchange. We had already completed the study, and this funding is a critical step to finally move us beyond the design phase and get this project off the ground. Obviously, we still need more, and I’ll continue to advocate for this project and work to secure additional funding through Corridors of Commerce and federal funding until we can get it done. It will happen. I am also grateful that we were able to successfully fund so many other critical infrastructure projects for our region. These improvements are crucial for the safety and well-being of our residents in Olmsted County. By investing in our infrastructure, we are ensuring a more connected and prosperous community for years to come.
“This infrastructure bill delivers important and needed projects for our area,” said Rochester DFL Rep. Kim Hicks. “Our quality of life will be enhanced by these investments. As a mom, I understand the importance of these projects and the benefit for our families. This is a bright day for our local communities and communities throughout the state.”