Greetings from Ghent as we reflect on the recently concluded 2023 legislative session and prepare to honor our great American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day weekend. I hope you have a good weekend and are able to get out and attend any of the various events taking place this weekend to pay tribute to those who gave their lives to defend us and our nation.
As for official business:
Town hall meetings
Sen. Dahms and I invite area residents to attend a series of town hall meetings we are co-hosting on Thursday, June 1, in Tracy, Marshall, Canby, Madison, Dawson, and Granite Falls.
These meetings are a great chance for us to hear from constituents and share thoughts on the recently concluded legislative session and ask questions. Here’s the schedule:
Tracy: 7:30-8:30 a.m., Public Library (189 3rd St.)
Marshall: 9:15-10:15 a.m., YMCA (200 South A St.)
Canby: 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., City Hall Council Chambers (110 Oscar Ave. N.)
Madison: 1:15 – 2:15 p.m., City Hall Auditorium (404 6th Ave.)
Dawson: 2:45 – 3:45 p.m., City Building (675 Chestnut St.)
Granite Falls: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m., City Hall Council Chambers (641 Prentice St.)
2023 session adjourns
The 2023 session ended Monday night and will be most remembered for a Democrat trifecta increasing state spending by more than 40 percent while raising taxes by nearly $10 billion despite a $17.5 billion state surplus.
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, a new payroll tax that will hit employers and employees alike, and more.
With Biden inflation hurting families, Democrats in St. Paul doubled down on increasing costs not because of federal policy, but to expand big St. Paul programs across the board. Family budgets have been shrinking, but the Democrat trifecta in Minnesota is ballooning our state budget by almost 50 percent. Metro-centric Democrats are making promises they can’t keep by building a state budget that is unsustainable and we’re all going to suffer for it, especially out here in Greater Minnesota. Democrats are even making our state’s energy grid more unreliable, unaffordable and dangerous with ill-advised policies.
Meanwhile, 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 a $75,000/$150,000 threshold to qualify.
Aside from state finances, Democrats enacted several highly controversial, partisan policy measures. 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 that will do more to burden law-abiding citizens than thwart violent criminals.
On top of that, a Democrat provision will end electronic pull tabs as we know them, dealing a major blow to local charitable organizations. This is clearly a case of catering to political allies, putting political favors ahead of what’s best for the vast majority of Minnesotans. We could have guessed Democrats would look to raise taxes and increase spending, but it’s these other things nobody talked about and hardly anybody wants that are really alarming and show this trifecta is catering to special-interest activists at all cost.
In contrast to the many concerns from this session, I am pleased legislative Republicans scored a big win for nursing homes by successfully 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.
And, locally, the Merit Center in Marshall received a $2.25 million capital investment appropriation in the final hours of the session.
Watch for more notes as we make our way through the summer and start planning for 2024. Please stay in touch and let me know how I may help.