The 2023 session is nearing its end, with just one full week remaining to put a new two-year state budget in place before we are scheduled to adjourn two Mondays from now.
While this year’s largest budget bills remain unresolved, some of the packages with smaller price tags have received final approval in the House this week. Here is more on the budget and some other topical items:
I would like to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to moms in our district. Thanks for all you do throughout the year and I hope you are able to spend extra time in the company of loved ones to celebrate this holiday.
Teacher Appreciation Week
This is Teachers Appreciation Week and I want to thank educators in our area as this week we recognize their dedication to helping our children learn, preparing them for a lifetime of success.
Minnesota’s fishing opener is this weekend, time a lot of us look forward to for many reasons. Good luck if you plan to get out on the water! On a related note, the omnibus environment package House Democrats approved in April raises fees for fishing, boating and visiting state parks. Those increases could be in place by next year unless a conference committee strikes them from the bill’s final form.
Ag. bill approved
The House last night provided final approval of an agriculture finance package, sending it to the governor for enactment. I served on a conference committee which modified or eliminated several major concerns from the House’s language in preparing the bill (S.F. 1955) for final passage.
Agriculture is an economic powerhouse in Minnesota and the last thing we should do is pass laws that negatively impact the ability of farmers to do their jobs. While this is not a perfect bill, it is good to see improvements were made to sand off some of the partisan edges and make this something more worthy of broad support.
The ag bill passed the Senate 49-16 yesterday and then gained 85-44 approval in the House. Click here for a full news release I issued on this bill.
Vets bill receives final approval
With overwhelming support, the House this week provided final approval for an omnibus veterans and military affairs finance package, (H.F. 1937) which funds Minnesota’s National Guard members and veterans after their service to our state and nation concludes – with appropriations for the state’s next two-year budget cycle.
The final version provides $383 million in total General Fund spending for programs to help veterans over the 2024-25 biennium – a $128 million increase from current levels. In total funding, this includes $94.5 million for the Dept. of Military Affairs and $288.5 million for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The bill also delivers operational funding for three new veterans homes, including ones constructed in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston.
It was good to see bipartisanship in this bill as it passed 131-0.
As for other major budget bills that remain unresolved, there are a number of concerns we are trying to work through, including:
Minnesota's Nursing Home industry is suffering a crisis and faces major consequences from Democrats failing to invest in nursing home care for seniors. The House DFL budget proposal is hundreds of millions of dollars short of meeting the urgent needs that exist.
Democrats propose raising state spending by 40 percent, with nearly $10 billion in tax increases despite the record $17.5 billion budget surplus. This includes the House Democrats’ widely unpopular delivery taxes, along with billions in sales tax increases, payroll taxes, fee increases, and unnecessary tax and fee increases that take money out of the pockets of Minnesota families. Unfortunately, a full exemption of the state tax on Social Security is not in the Democrats’ plan.
The House Democrat education proposal includes dozens of new, unfunded mandates on Minnesota schools. Paired with proposed worker leave taxes, many school districts have expressed concern the Democrat budget proposal would put them into an operating deficit, even taking into account proposed formula increases. House Republicans offered an alternative education budget proposal that would have put substantial new increases toward the per-pupil formula, without the harmful mandates put forward by Democrats.
Proposed tax increases, paired with billions of dollars in new business mandates proposed by Democrats have caused significant concern from Minnesota businesses of all sizes. This includes their proposed fifth-tier income tax that would impact many small businesses that file through their personal income taxes and give Minnesota one of the highest top tax brackets in the nation. Paid leave and sick time mandates would add billions in new taxes on both employers and employees and put an additional strain on Minnesota's already tight labor force.
Watch for more notes from the Capitol as we make our way to the end of this session. Your feedback always is welcome.