Lawmakers hope Ag agrement sets the tone

A joint House/Senate Conference committee has agreed on a bill that funds Agriculture programs over the next two years. The committee of ten Republicans and Democrats unanimously backed the measure. It spends $76 million in general fund revenue over the next two years on programs like agricultural research, food and plant inspection and agriculture education.

Republican Senator Doug Magnus says he hopes it’s a sign that the GOP controlled Legislature can compromise with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton on other budget matters.

“Since we’re the first horse out of the gate, we wanted to make sure we headed in the right direction and hoped everyone takes notice of what we’ve done,” Magnus said.

The Ag budget bill historically receives bipartisan support and GOP Rep. Rod Hamilton hopes the full House and Senate can vote on the measure by the end of the week.

“”I am very optimistic that we put a bill together that the governor can sign and it passed out of here on a bipartisan basis,” Hamilton said. “We can work together.”

Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson told lawmakers that he would tell Governor Dayton to sign the bill.

While lawmakers are cheering the bipartisan agreement on the Ag bill, there will be tougher budget decisions ahead. Gov. Dayton has been calling for an income tax hike on Minnesota’s top earners to balance the state’s budget. Republicans in both the House and Senate say they’ll oppose a tax increase of any kind.

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