ST. PAUL – The 2023 legislative session concluded Monday and Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, said it will be most remembered for a Democrat trifecta treating a narrow majority as a sweeping mandate for passing a far-left agenda.
Mekeland said the new two-year state budget Democrats approved will increase spending by more than 40 percent, from $52 billion to $72 billion, adding Democrats approved almost $10 billion in tax increases despite a $17.5 billion state surplus. This includes 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.
“It was quite clear from the start of this session the Democrat trifecta had no interest in doing what was best for everyday Minnesotans and were bent on catering to metro-centric activists with carve-outs for their political allies,” Mekeland said. “They are using a paper-thin majority to push an extreme agenda on the whole state. Democrats passed mandates into law this session so extreme numerous lawsuits likely are to be filed in short order, costing taxpayers even more. This could have been avoided but, instead of listening to Minnesotans, the Democrats muzzled half of Minnesota and continued pushing measures that only serve to divide people in our state.”
Meanwhile, Mekeland said Democrats failed to provide a full elimination of the state’s Social Security tax despite nearly universal support for that move. And, after Gov. Tim Walz began the session by supporting $2,000 surplus rebates for joint filers, Mekeland said Democrats ultimately approved just a fraction of that amount – $260 per person, or $520 per couple with income thresholds of $75,000/$150,000.
"In reality, these rebates will be far outweighed by the $10 billion in tax increases Democrats approved," Mekeland said. "In fact, those who do qualify for a rebate might want to just consider it a stipend to pay for one month of tax increases."
Aside from state finances, Mekeland indicated Democrats enacted several highly controversial, partisan policy measures. He said this includes adopting some of the world’s most extreme abortion policy, enacting a state-funded speech registry that could undermine First Amendment rights, declaring Minnesota a sanctuary state for transgender healthcare – for children and adopting gun-control laws Mekeland indicated will do more to burden law-abiding citizens than thwart violent criminals. In addition, Mekeland said a Democrat provision will end electronic pull tabs as we know them, dealing a major blow to local charitable organizations. Democrats also made our state’s energy grid more unreliable, unaffordable and dangerous with ill-advised policies, Mekeland said.
“Democrats went far beyond what most would deem reasonable this session and will have to answer to Minnesotans for that,” Mekeland said. “They increased taxes beyond what many can afford, raised state spending to unsustainable levels and passed radical legislation hardly anyone wants – starting with ending e-pull tabs as we know them and putting our abortion policy on par with radical regimes in North Korea and China. That’s just the start of the damage this Democrat trifecta is causing and why it can’t be trusted.”
Mekeland said he is pleased legislative Republicans scored a big win for nursing homes by successfully negotiating $300 million more than had Democrats previously proposed providing them. He said this added funding will help that industry at a time nursing homes have been forced to close and families have been left scrambling to find care for their loved ones.
"Democrats only approved $3.96 million for nursing homes until we Republicans held our ground to secure more funding for our seniors," Mekeland said. "It is good they came around to doing the right thing after being so far in the wrong on this issue."