State infrastructure plan fails again

By NOAH SANFORD,

The 2018 legislative session came to an end on Wednesday, March 28, a few days before the scheduled deadline of April 1.

The most significant pieces of legislation that were attempted were an infrastructure program, a rewrite of the K-12 education funding formula, the reauthorization of Medicaid laws, and a ban on abortions after 15 weeks gestation.

Most disappointing is that a comprehensive plan for infrastructure failed yet again.  The House’s plan would have sent some state revenues primarily from internet sales to counties and cities for their road and bridge programs.  The Senate’s plan was much more comprehensive and relied more heavily on bonding (borrowing).  It also would have put some money for transportation under the governor’s office, rather than under MDOT.  In the end, House and Senate negotiators were unable to reach a compromise.  Neither plan was perfect, but either was better than nothing.   Yet again, my hope is that next year common sense and compromise will prevail and we can pass a road program that sends money back to cities and counties.  It is my belief that roads and bridges should not be funded through property taxes, which is the primary source of revenue for counties.

The rewrite of the K-12 education funding formula met its death in the Senate.  The current formula—MAEP—is likely not perfect, but the proposed formula had a few major flaws that prevented me from supporting it.  However, the Legislature put about $12 million more into K-12 education than last year.

The reauthorization of the state rules that affect Medicaid was in limbo for quite sometime, as some seemed to want the bill to die.  However, in the end, a good bill was passed.  Medicaid’s budget has been growing at an unsustainable rate over the past many years.  However, a new director took the reins a few months ago, and he has already saved the taxpayers about $40 million.  Hopefully this is a pattern that will continue.

A ban on abortion after 15 weeks of gestation easily passed both chambers of the Legislature.  Previously State law banned abortions after 20 weeks.