ST. PAUL – The 2023 legislative session concluded Monday and Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, said it will be most remembered for Democrats increasing state spending by more than 40 percent while raising taxes $10 billion despite a $17.5 billion state surplus.
Urdahl said the new two-year state budget will increase spending from $52 billion to $72 billion. Tax hikes include raising the state’s gas tax by 3.5 cents per gallon and tying it to inflation, increasing license tab fees, adding a 50-cent delivery tax, applying a new payroll tax that will hit employers and employees alike, and more.
“A lot of concerning decisions were made this session that put our state on an unsustainable spending path,” Urdahl said. “People and businesses throughout our state are facing higher prices across the board and, instead of delivering meaningful tax relief, Democrats added to the burden. It’s hard to justify giving the state a 40-percent raise, especially when people in our state are having to do more with less.
“On the other hand, I am pleased to have helped gain a couple of statewide victories by bringing to passage a capital investment bill which funds key projects around our state, and successfully authoring legislation requiring civics be taught to our high school juniors and seniors. Those are two key bipartisan victories which came from a session where bipartisanship often seemed in short supply.”
Meanwhile, Urdahl said Democrats failed to provide a full elimination of the state’s Social Security tax despite nearly universal support for that move. And, after Gov. Tim Walz began the session by supporting $2,000 surplus rebates for joint filers, Urdahl said Democrats ultimately approved just a fraction of that amount – $260 per person, or $520 per couple.
Aside from state finances, Urdahl indicated Democrats enacted several highly controversial, partisan policy measures. He said this includes adopting some of the world’s most extreme abortion policy, enacting a state-funded speech registry that could undermine First Amendment rights, declaring Minnesota a sanctuary state for transgender healthcare for children and adopting gun-control laws Urdahl indicated will do more to burden law-abiding citizens than thwart violent criminals.
Urdahl also said a Democrat provision will end electronic pull tabs as we know them, dealing a major blow to local charitable organizations.
“A large number of charitable organizations in our area and throughout the state depend on electronic pull tabs as a major source of revenue that allows them to perform their valuable services,” Urdahl said. “Our state should not be compromising their ability to do the good work we all appreciate, especially when groups around our state are counting on their support even more in today’s economy.”
Urdahl said he is pleased legislative Republicans scored a big win for nursing homes by successfully negotiating $300 million more than Democrats had proposed providing them. He said this added funding will help that industry at a time nursing homes have been forced to close and families have been left scrambling to find care for their loved ones.