ST. PAUL – State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, said he is pleased most of the tax increases proposed by Gov. Tim Walz and the House majority were struck down in the process of setting a new two-year state budget.
A brief special session took place Friday and early Saturday after proposals to raise taxes by $12 billion caused budget talks to stall and no deal was in place when the Legislature’s May 20 date for adjournment arrived.
“It was one of those sessions where you look for victories not only in what we passed, but in some of the things we prevented from becoming law,” Urdahl said. “The vast majority of the $12 billion in proposed tax increases was stopped, including the proposal to raise our state’s gas tax by 20 cents per gallon. We also spared nursing homes from the $68 million cut that was proposed and held off other bills that would have compromised our Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the 2-percent tax on health care will be extended due to the insistence of the governor and the House majority.”
Numerous provisions related to agriculture were included in the final budget plan. A total of $8 million was provided to help dairy farmers cover the costs of a federal Margin Protection Plan insurance program. The funding is directed toward smaller, family-type operations with fewer than 750 cows. An appropriation to provide mental health support for farmers also was approved.
A former social studies teacher, Urdahl said he was pleased to see the K-12 system receive a 2-percent funding increase each of the next two years. More money to enhance school safety and to cover the rising costs of special education was approved, as well as a provision Urdahl championed to restore civics as a priority in high schools.
Urdahl said House Republicans also successfully negotiated changes that will enhance transparency next session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency and fix flaws in the structure implemented this year.
“The end of this session was especially closed off, with the session’s most important decisions being made out of the public’s view,” Urdahl said. “That is not how our system is designed to operate and we need to do better. I am optimistic the changes we negotiated will lead to the kind of transparency taxpayers deserve.”