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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, March 24, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

This is a budget year at the Capitol, which means the Legislature’s main responsibility this session is to set a new two-year plan for state spending and taxes. The House and Senate Democrat majorities and Gov. Tim Walz this week announced they had reached agreement to the framework of a spending plan.

A lot of the details need to be sorted out but the main thing that stands out is their plan would increase state General Fund spending by nearly 40 percent, from the current $52 billion biennial budget to $71.9 billion in 2023-24. The agreement Democrats reached is for $17.9 billion, which means they are spending the $17.5 billion surplus, and more.

Unfortunately, it appears meaningful tax relief is not part of their plan and they have not committed to fully repealing the state tax on Social Security. In fact, despite a $17.5 billion surplus, they propose increasing taxes, including sales taxes and license tab fees.

This proposal is out of touch with what most Minnesotans want. Families and businesses facing price increases across the board are asking for relief, not for the state to increase its own budget by almost 40 percent. But, instead of listening to Minnesotans and proposing a responsible budget with meaningful tax relief, this agreement results in a spending spree that threatens our state’s long-term bottom line and will cost taxpayers even more.

This will be an ongoing topic of discussion this session as we continue working through the details of various sections of the proposed budget. Watch for more as we work through this session.

In other news:

Major problems with metro train project

Most Minnesotans agree safe roads and bridges should be a priority in our state. Meanwhile, taxpayer dollars that could be used to improve our streets and highways are instead being squandered. A recent report issued by the Minnesota Legislative Auditor’s office highlights how the Met Council was not transparent on costs and didn’t hold its construction contractor accountable on the Southwest Light Rail project that is experiencing serious overruns in time and money.

Here is more from a KSTP report:

“The project is a billion dollars over budget – more than double at this point – and has been a concern with lawmakers. It was supposed to be done by 2018 for $1.25 billion, and now it sits at $2.74 billion and is scheduled to be finished in 2027.”

There’s also this:

“The audit also states the Metropolitan Council was obligated to spend additional funds on the project for increased costs than what had already been committed because it didn’t have enough money to finish or halt the project.”

These developments are unacceptable and are doing a disservice to taxpayers who deserve answers. These dollars could have been used to improve our state’s roads and bridges, but instead have been subject to waste. Now, the governor and House majority have put forward their transportation budgets that continue to expand mass-transit spending that is questionable at best.

Transgender healthcare sanctuary state

House Democrats last night/early this morning approved a bill (H.F. 146) making Minnesota a sanctuary state for transgender healthcare.

I oppose this bill in large part because it fails to include any reasonable guardrails to protect kids. This proposal undermines the rights of parents and gives others authority over these life-long, life-changing decisions for children. It will make Minnesota a magnet for child custody victims by prohibits Minnesota from recognizing or enforcing laws from other states that allow a child to be removed from a parent’s home because the child received gender-affirming health care.

The bill also allows temporary emergency jurisdiction to be awarded in cases of gender affirming healthcare, prohibits Minnesota from complying with out-of-state subpoenas related to individuals coming to Minnesota for gender affirming health care, and prohibits the arrest or recognition of any demand for extradition of someone who came to Minnesota for gender affirming care.

As always, your input is welcome. Have a good weekend and please stay in touch.