The 2023 legislative session ended earlier this week and there is a whole lot to sort through regarding the state’s new two-year budget that was enacted and a number of policy changes that also are going on the books.
Here is a look at some of those top-line details, with some other important notes to start:
Here’s hoping you have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend as we pay tribute to the American heroes of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I hope you are able to attend any of the area events honoring to those who served and sacrificed. Happy Memorial Day!
It was an honor to attend the 67th Minnesota State Trooper Academy ceremony Tuesday at the University of Minnesota. I am proud to support our law enforcement and truly appreciate the efforts our troopers put forth to keep us safe.
New state budget
The 2023 legislative session adjourned Monday night after a new two-year state budget was sent to the governor for enactment.
Under the plan approved by one-party Democrat control, state spending will increase spending from $52 billion to $72 billion in the next biennium, a 40-percent increase. Democrats also approved $9 billion and counting in tax increase despite a $17.5 billion surplus.
Tax hikes include raising the state’s gas tax by 3.5 cents per gallon and tying it to inflation, increasing license tab fees, adding a 50-cent delivery tax, a new payroll tax that will hit employers and employees alike, and more.
With a $17.5 billion surplus, tax increases of any kind should have been off the table, especially these regressive taxes that hurt lower income Minnesotans the most. Minnesotans are having a difficult time seeing why this was necessary at a time the state already is over-collecting from taxpayers. We should be looking for ways to help make Minnesotans lives more affordable – not jacking up costs even more.
Meanwhile, a full elimination of the state’s Social Security tax was not approved despite nearly universal support for that move. And, after Gov. Tim Walz began the session by supporting $2,000 surplus rebates for joint filers, one-party control ultimately approved just a fraction of that amount – $260 per person, or $520 per couple, with a $75,000/$150,000 qualification threshold.
Victory for nursing homes
A big win was scored when Republicans successfully negotiated a $300 million increase in nursing home funding late in the session. These added dollars will help the long-term care industry at a time nursing homes have been forced to close and families have been left scrambling to find care for their loved ones. I am pleased we were able to deliver more support for the people who provide amazing care for our seniors and others who rely on their services.
Another big achievement late this session came when our team of District 13 legislators successfully secured funding for three projects that address infrastructure needs throughout our area. This includes funding to:
Complete needed updates and rehabilitation to lift stations throughout Rockville. These funds will go towards the site restorations for Grand Lake, Pleasant Lake, and Voigt sanitary sewer lift stations. Funding for this project equates to $1.2 million.
Improve Town Line Road from Stearns County Road 5 to Stearns County Road 4. These improvements will create safer road conditions and will positively impact the cities of Sartell and St. Stephen, as well as Brockway, Le Sauk, and St. Wendell townships.
Address flood hazard mitigation projects, with $2.5 million going toward mitigation efforts for neighborhoods in the western portion of Sartell.
Watch for more from the Capitol soon as we take a closer look at some of the particular sections of the state’s new budget. Until then, have a good Memorial Day weekend and please stay in touch.