The 2019 legislative session came to a close last Saturday with the completion of a one-day special session. The special session was needed to pass budget bills that were agreed to as part of negotiations between the Senate Majority Leader, House Speaker, and Governor Walz.
While I am pleased that the vast majority of Democrats’ extreme tax proposals did not become law, I am concerned about a lack of transparency surrounding the end-of-session budget negotiations.
In fact, I would go so far as to say this year’s session was one of the least transparent in history. Entire budget bills were decided entirely behind closed doors by a small group of people consisting of the Governor, Speaker, and Senate Majority Leader. Some bills did not have a single provision adopted in public prior to passage.
This is the wrong way to govern and I am frustrated with the way the session ended from a transparency and process perspective. We need to do better.
Despite a Democrat House and Governor, I am relatively encouraged by the final budget deal. Democrats had proposed to raise taxes by more than $12 billion over the next four years including a 70% gas tax increase. Thankfully, most of these proposed tax increases did not become law.
Here is a brief recap of some other “wins” this session:
- First income tax rate cut in 20 years: the tax bill lowered the second-tier rate from 7.05% to 6.8% beginning in 2019, allowing most Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
- No Gun Control: Thanks to bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate, none of Democrats' gun control proposals survived in the final budget agreement.
- Extending Reinsurance: The final budget agreement extended reinsurance for two years, continuing a program that has proven to lower health care costs for families and become a national model that other states red and blue alike are following.
- No Nursing Home Cuts: Republicans fought Democrat-backed efforts to cut $68 million from nursing homes. These cuts would have devastated budgets for nursing facilities and harmed care for aging Minnesotans.
- No Gas Tax: Republicans stood strong and blocked all of the Democrat-backed transportation tax increases, including the Governor's 70 percent increase to the gas tax.
- Cracking Down on Fraud: The final HHS bill included provisions to crack down on fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
- No ONEcare: Republicans defeated Governor Walz's ONEcare proposal, which would have hurt rural hospitals and was a next step toward a single-payer, government takeover of health care.
- No Elections Policy: Democrat efforts to ram through controversial elections policy—breaking with the tradition of requiring bipartisan support for election measures—were halted as part of the final budget agreement.
Further, I authored a provision that was included in the Transportation Omnibus Bill that requires signs on Interstate I-35 for Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and Minnesota State Academy for the Blind.
Staying in Touch
While the 2019 legislative session is officially over, my job as your state representative does not end. Please continue to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you have regarding state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,