There is a lot to address in this newsletter in the wake of the 2023 session ending this week. Before we get into those matters, I want to wish everyone in District 29A a good Memorial Day weekend. I hope you are able to get out and attend any of the various events in our district that will take place to honor our true American heroes who gave their lives to serve us. God bless the men and women who sacrificed so much and may your legacies endure.
As for news from St. Paul, the recently concluded 2023 session will be most remembered for Democrats increasing state spending by more than 40 percent (from $52 billion to around $72 billion) and increasing taxes by record amounts despite a historic state surplus.
As I look back on it, this session was all about the good, the bad and the ugly. The “good” is House Republicans fought tooth and nail to get additional funding for our hemorrhaging nursing homes and were successful by negotiating $300 million more than Democrats had proposed providing them. 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.
We also led to enactment an overwhelmingly bipartisan package to support our veterans, which was great to see.
The “bad” includes Democrats raising state spending by 43 percent, while also passing the largest tax increase in the history of our state – at nearly $10 billion – despite a surplus of around $19 billion. This includes hiking 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.
The “ugly” was found in a number of extreme, partisan laws such as legalizing abortions at any time throughout a pregnancy and without any guardrails, putting our state's abortion laws on par with the most radical in the world. Also, 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, Democrats ultimately approved just a fraction of that amount – $260 per person, or $520 per couple – with an income threshold of $75,000/$150,000 to qualify.
In addition to changes on abortion, Democrats enacted several highly controversial, partisan policy measures. This includes establishing 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 that will do more to burden law-abiding citizens than thwart violent criminals. In addition, a Democrat provision will end electronic pull tabs as we know them, dealing a major blow to local charitable organizations.
I work to be genial and do my best to work across the aisle with my Democrat colleagues to see where they’re coming from and to find common ground to help the people of Minnesota. That said, the divisive, partisan agenda they pushed this session really is beyond what even my Democrat friends say they want, making agreements incredibly challenging to reach this session. So much of what we saw the last five months appears to be driven by activists who are pushing a far-left agenda on all of Minnesota.
Minnesotans want Republicans and Democrats to work together and do what's right for our state. It’s certainly what they deserve and I hope we can remember that in the future.
For now, here’s wishing you an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Hope to see you around the district soon and, as always, your input is welcome.