Memorial Day is Monday, a time that we remember our fallen service members with pride. May we remain forever grateful for the ultimate sacrifice of those who died protecting the United States of America. May their courage and dedication to serving us always be remembered. Hope to see you at local programs to honor these true American heroes this Memorial Day.
The biggest news from the Capitol this week is 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.
It is unfortunate tax relief was not approved this session, especially since people are feeling the pinch of price increases at a time the state has historic levels of excess revenue. In the end, there were unrealistic and potentially damaging things the House majority insisted be included and that’s what caused negotiations to stall.
The silver lining is earlier this month we approved legislation to prevent Minnesota employers from suffering a tax increase on unemployment insurance. Still, there was an opportunity to do much more this session by providing permanent, meaningful tax cuts.
The lack of action to improve public safety also was disappointing. The House majority 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. We had a good opportunity to support law enforcement and 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, I worked closely with a bill to fund essential infrastructure projects around the state. Lengthy negotiations brought it to the cusp of a vote taking place, but this legislation also remained unresolved at the end of session.
It’s too bad a bonding bill was not done, but the House majority let the perfect get in the way of the possible. 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.
The governor 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.
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 spending more on government programs, 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.
I will keep you apprised of any developments. For now, have a good Memorial Day weekend and please stay in touch.