Hello from the State Capitol,
The 2023 legislative session has ended. As you might expect, there is both good and bad news to report.
Let’s begin on a positive note. Highway 65 has received a significant funding infusion.
I worked to ensure $25 million was in the original House bill and Senator Michael Kruen amended $56 million in Trunk Highway Bonds into the transportation omnibus. After negotiations, the bill ended up with $68.75 million in Trunk Highway Bonds!
Highway 65 also received funding from a bonding bill and a cash bill. $200 million was allocated for GOP projects and $25 million of that $200 million was designated for Highway 65. We also got $9 million for it in cash.
Now, in the final plan that is being sent to the governor for his signature, Highway 65 is receiving more than $100 million! That is enough money to fully fund the reconstruction of 99th Avenue, 105th Avenue, and 109th Avenue, so I am extremely pleased our hard work and negotiations here at the Capitol have paid off. Thankfully, Highway 65 has always had bipartisan support.
Now the bad news: Democrats that control state government have approved $9.7 billion in tax increases and increased state spending to $72 billion – a mammoth 40% jump.
Some of the tax increases you’ll be paying include a full 1% on the sales tax in the 7-county Metro Area, a new payroll tax will hit every employer and worker in the state, there will be an automatic increase in the gas tax every year, a 50-cent delivery tax is implemented on most deliveries over $100, and a 30% increase in license tab fees and motor vehicle sales taxes will also take effect.
The average taxpayer will now pay $3,500 more a year in taxes and fees. There was $3.7 billion in tax increases in the transportation bill alone, which forced me to vote against it despite it containing some Highway 65 funding. I did vote for Highway 65 in bonding because it wasn't attached to this other nonsense. It's ridiculous this is happening with a record $17.5 billion budget surplus. Governor Walz initially proposed $2,000 rebate checks after he won re-election, but that was whittled down to a paltry $260 that doesn't even go to every taxpayer.
Also worth mentioning, the Democrats are moving forward with their plan to change e-pull tabs and e-bingo as we know them, which is going to devastate charitable gaming. This is incredibly frustrating and the only reason they are doing it is to appease the tribes who are some of the biggest funders of their campaign operations.
Electronic pull tabs have been an unexpected boon for bars, the youth sports associations, VFW’s, and other establishments that offer them. In 2022 alone they generated almost $2 billion in revenue, and a major benefactor of these sales are local charities like the Blaine Hockey Association. In fact, the Blaine Hockey Association got close to $600,000 from e-pull tabs last year.
The majority’s omnibus tax bill will eliminate the “open all” feature, and force players to “open one line at a time.” This bans 95% of the e-pulltabs currently in use around the state. This maneuver will dramatically slow sales, and significantly reduce the amount of money that is collected and allocated to local charities and organizations. Also, no one on earth opens regular pull tabs one line at a time. It is just absurd.
Sorry to overload you with the negative, but I fear the impact that these gigantic policy shifts will have on our state. The Democrats hardly won over 50% of the vote but ended up steamrolling the other half of the state. At least we got over $100 million for Highway 65 though!
If you have any specific questions about what happened this session, please let me know.
Talk to you soon,