The Legislature adjourned from the 2022 session this week with more fizzle than fireworks at the end.
More on that in a moment, but first I want to say a few words about the brave and honorable women who died while serving our military as we make our way to this Memorial Day weekend. We owe the people of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice a tremendous debt of gratitude and I hope you will join me in taking time this weekend to honor their tremendous contributions to keep us safe and defend our liberties.
As for jottings from St. Paul, the session ended Monday without approval of priority legislation that would convert a massive state surplus to historic tax relief and improve public safety at a time violent crime is soaring.
I adamantly support eliminating the state’s tax on Social Security and that is a top consequence for inaction largely caused by House Democrats withholding a tax bill to seek additional spending for state programs. Neither happened by the deadline of midnight Sunday.
It’s a shame tax relief was held hostage in an attempt to spend more on government programs, especially since this is not a budget year and the state already is fully funded for the biennium. Minnesotans are trying to deal with record price increases at a time the state has a historic surplus, but the House majority insisted on raising government spending by 15 percent or more compared with the last budget. That proved to be a deal-breaker.
I do applaud Legislature’s early-May approval of funding for construction cost increases and furnishings for the state’s three new veterans homes, including one in in Bemidji. And I am pleased legislation to repay Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund deficit and reverse tax hikes on employers received approval earlier this month. That UI bill took far longer to pass than necessary, but at least we got there.
Tax relief will remain a top priority for me, whether it’s when the Legislature returns in 2023 or if the governor calls a special session before then. One word of caution is that I do not want to see us settle for temporary tax gimmicks when people deserve structural reductions and reform that will benefit us all for the long haul.
House Democrats also refused to fund law enforcement this session and blocked increased penalties for criminals – including a bill that would crack down on fentanyl as our country deals with record-setting overdose deaths driven by this deadly drug.
It is a mistake to continue turning a blind eye to the increase in violent crime our state is experiencing. Yes, this issue is mainly centered on our major cities, but we are seeing impacts throughout the state, and we can’t continue losing Minnesotans to senseless killings. Public safety is our government’s top responsibility and, right now, we are failing in this regard largely because of extreme views that want to defund the police instead of doing more to support law enforcement so they can make our streets safer.
This isn’t the last word on these issues and, as I said, tax relief and public safety will remain top priorities of mine as we look ahead to the 2023 session, so stay tuned. Until next time, have a good weekend and hope you are able to get out to Memorial Day events in our area. Please stay in touch and we’ll see you around the district.