ST. PAUL – The Legislature adjourned Monday without resolving top priorities such as converting a massive state surplus to historic tax relief and improving public safety at a time violent crime is soaring.
State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, said House Democrats’ insistence on increasing government spending by billions of dollars bogged down tax relief. Senate Republicans proposed more than $8 billion in tax relief, while House Democrats were looking to spend $21 for every $1 in tax cuts.
“It’s really unfortunate tax relief was not approved this session, especially since people are feeling the pinch of price increases at a time the state has piles of excess revenue,” Urdahl said. “In the end, there were unrealistic, potentially damaging things the House majority insisted we do and that’s what caused progress to stall. It is good that earlier this month we approved legislation to prevent Minnesota employers from suffering a tax increase on unemployment insurance, but the opportunity was there to do much more this session by providing permanent, meaningful tax cuts.”
Urdahl also said House Democrats refused to fund law enforcement and blocked increased penalties for criminals – including a bill that would crack down on fentanyl as our country deals with record-setting overdose deaths driven by this deadly drug.
“It’s hard to pass bills on public safety when any number of Democrats have advocated defunding the police,” Urdahl said. “We had a good opportunity to support law enforcement with more funding to help get a handle on the rise in violent crime but, instead, people continue pushing to spend more taxpayer dollars on unproven and unaccountable non-profit groups.”
As the ranking House Republican on capital investment, Urdahl said a bill to fund essential infrastructure projects around the state derailed after lengthy negotiations brought it to the cusp of a vote taking place.
“It’s too bad a bonding bill was not done, but the House majority let the perfect get in the way of the possible,” Urdahl said. “You need a super majority to approve bonding bills, which means broad, bipartisan support is required. There were some non-starters the majority demanded be included in the bill and, ultimately, that eroded support and was too much to overcome.”
Gov. Tim Walz could call a special session in the coming weeks so this session’s unfinished business could be addressed. For that to happen, firm agreement on the finished product would need to be in hand.
“We’ll see what happens,” Urdahl said. “On one hand, yes, it would be nice to come back and deliver major tax relief, improve public safety and fund crucial infrastructure projects. On the other hand, the state already is fully funded so there is no threat of a state shutdown. A special session also could mean billions of dollars that could be used for tax cuts are instead directed toward more government spending, exposing us to added risk at a time of economic uncertainty. While certainly disappointing, it might be in our best long-term interest to revisit these issues in January when a new Legislature convenes.”