The 2019 Special Session wrapped up early Saturday morning with a budget sent to Governor Walz after passing both the Minnesota House and Senate.
Minnesota was in a strong position to pass a budget that funded our priorities without raising a dime in taxes — much less the $12 billion in increases that passed the House initially.
The special session resulted in a budget that will raise the cost of health care by $2 billion on Minnesota families via the Sick Tax. Fortunately, Republican leadership helped blocked billions in Democrat tax increases and radical gun control proposals that would hurt law-abiding Minnesotans.
The special session was called by Governor Walz after days of closed-door meetings, and a "tribunal" comprised of the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority Leader. Some conference committees did not adopt a single provision in a public setting, resulting in entire bills being decided behind closed doors – the least transparent process in the history of Minnesota lawmaking. The largest budget bill was not publicly released until after 4PM—several hours after the special session had begun.
House Republicans successfully negotiated in exchange for a conclusion to the special session by 7AM changes that will enhance transparency next session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency.
The process at the end of session was unacceptable and Democrats failed miserably in their promise to deliver better transparency. Thanks to efforts of House Republicans, next session should be more transparent for both the public and the legislators they send to St. Paul to represent their interests.
Some of the bipartisan wins from this past session include:
- 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. While House Republicans voted against the tax bill as a result of the provider tax, this historic rate reduction, along with federal conformity will mean more money in people's pockets and fewer headaches next tax season.
- No Gun Control: Thanks to bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate, none of Democrats' extreme 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. Republicans also stopped harmful proposals like "ONEcare" that would have hurt rural hospitals thanks to their lower reimbursement rate.
- 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). These include stricter reporting requirements, stronger oversight, and a case-tracking system at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to help track fraud cases. While there's still more work to do, these provisions are a good first-step toward restoring integrity in CCAP and our other public programs.
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