The final full week of the 2023 session arrives Monday. Most of this session’s major budget bills are still in the hands of conference committees that are working to resolve differences between House and Senate proposals so they can be presented for votes on final passage.
Thankfully, a bill that funds veterans/military affairs already received final approval in the House and soon should be enacted by the governor. Here’s a look at more on that subject, and some other timely notes:
Happy Mother’s Day to moms throughout our district. Thank you for all you do and I hope you are able to spend extra time in the company of loved ones as we celebrate this holiday.
Minnesota’s fishing opener starts today at midnight. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, 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, pending language in the final version of that bill we are still awaiting. Good luck this weekend and please be safe out on the water.
Teacher Appreciation Week
Thank you to teachers in our district for all you do as this week we recognize their dedication to educating and preparing our children for a lifetime of success.
Vets bill receives final approval
The Minnesota House this week provided final approval for an omnibus veterans and military affairs finance package, with minor tweaks from the version that gained preliminary passage last month.
The bill (H.F. 1937) 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.
As the ranking House Republican on veterans, I was pleased to be a member of the conference committee that put this bill in shape for final passage. As approved, the bill 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 one constructed in Bemidji.
We, as a state, need to support our veterans and this bill does a good job of that. Of course, there are always things you wish could have been done differently, a little better, but I’m satisfied with how this turned out. The final bill cleared the House with overwhelming bipartisan support on a 131-0 vote.
As for some remaining issues of concern during the session’s final week:
Minnesota's Nursing Home industry is suffering a crisis and faces dire consequences. The House Democrat budget proposal is hundreds of millions of dollars short of meeting the urgent needs that exist for nursing homes and our seniors.
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 majority's education proposal includes dozens of new, unfunded mandates on Minnesota schools. Paired with proposed worker leave taxes, many school districts have expressed concern the 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.
Gun-control provisions (universal gun registry and red flag confiscation orders) remain part of the discussion in the public safety bill. I strongly oppose these anti-Second Amendment proposals and here is a link to the conference committee responsible for putting this bill in final form.
Proposed tax increases, paired with billions of dollars in new business mandates proposed by the majority 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.
Look for more news soon as we come down to the end of the 2023 session with many important decisions on the line.