The 2023 session is scheduled to adjourn by May 22. Most of this year’s major omnibus bills to set the new two-year state budget remain unfinished as the Democrat trifecta of power decides exactly how much to spend and tax Minnesotans. As you may remember, the House majority’s budget proposal would increase state spending by 40 percent and raise taxes by nearly $10 billion at a time the state has surplus of $17.5 billion and growing.
Here are some of the latest developments at the Capitol, but first I would like to share some other important messages:
Happy Mother’s Day to moms in our district as we celebrate this holiday in your honor. I hope you are able to spend extra time in the company of loved ones this weekend.
Good luck to everyone who plans to head out on the water for this weekend’s Minnesota’s fishing opener. In addition to fishing being just plain fun, it also is a strong component in our state’s economy. A recent Mankato Free Press article indicates, “In 2021, boating and fishing were the top contributors to the overall outdoor recreation economy — bringing in over $775 million in value added to Minnesota.” On a more concerning note, the omnibus environment package House Democrats approved in April raises fees for fishing, boating and visiting state parks. Those increases could be in place soon, depending how this bill looks when it’s in final form.
Teacher Appreciation Week
Thank you to teachers in our district for working so hard to help our children achieve success as we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. Your efforts are very much appreciated.
Veterans bill approved
Good news to report with the House this week providing final approval for an omnibus veterans and military affairs finance package, (H.F. 1937) which 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.
The final version 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 in our state.
House Republicans successfully added numerous provisions to the bill that were retained by the conference committee for the final bill. This includes expanding the Veteran Bonus program to veterans who currently live in Minnesota, even though they may not have lived in the state when they enlisted, as well as veterans who served in the Inherent Resolve Military campaign. Additional funding for veteran bonuses also is included in the package. The bill also increases the Veterans GI Bill tuition benefit from $3,000 to $5,000 per year, and ups the lifetime benefit from $10,000 to $15,000.
It was good to see bipartisanship in this bill as it passed 131-0.
Concerns over remaining budget bills
While the House has provided final approval for some smaller aspects of the state budget, the biggest finance packages are still in the hands of conference committees working to find agreement between House and Senate Democrat majorities. There are major concerns in those bills and here are just a few:
As noted, 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.
Gun-control provisions (universal gun registry and red flag confiscation orders) remain part of the discussion in the public safety bill Democrats are assembling. I am a strong advocate for the Second Amendment and oppose these proposals. Here is a link to the conference committee responsible for putting this bill in final form.
Minnesota's Nursing Home industry is suffering a crisis. The House majority’s budget proposal is hundreds of millions of dollars short of meeting the urgent needs that exist for nursing homes and seniors.
The House Democrat education proposal includes dozens of new, unfunded mandates on Minnesota schools. Paired with proposed worker leave taxes, many school districts have expressed concern the Democrat 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.
Proposed tax increases, paired with billions of dollars in new business mandates pushed by Democrats 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 from the Capitol as we work through the end of the session. Let’s hope common sense prevails so the state’s next two-year budget helps all Minnesotans instead of catering to the extreme activists as the House majority proposes.