An End to Special Session
I am happy let you all know that special session has officially ended. Early this morning, my fellow colleagues passed the last of the bills that we needed to get done before we adjourned. As a result, we have avoided a state government shutdown by passing our $52 billion two-year budget.
The Minnesota Legislature is the only divided legislature in the country. The Republicans have a majority in the Minnesota Senate, and the Democrats have a majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The political differences that exist because of this divide can often make it difficult to pass legislation, and this year was no exception. Nevertheless, there were a few key items that passed as a part of our state budget that are very important.
After nearly sixteen months of living under a peacetime emergency declaration, we officially voted to end the peacetime emergency that was declared by Governor Tim Walz. During these months, the governor was given extra power to do almost anything he wanted. I am glad the Minnesota Legislature finally ended the peacetime emergency, but we still need to reform our emergency powers process.
Additionally, we voted to make forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and certain unemployment benefits tax exempt. This conformity with the federal government will help many Minnesota families and businesses. Furthermore, the Minnesota Legislature voted to increase funding to schools and voted to fund rural broadband access. Finally, my colleagues and I passed an amendment to curb the influence of lobbyists in Minnesota.
Despite these accomplishments, I am still concerned by the high amount of spending. The $52 billion two-year budget is the largest in state history. A portion of this money did come from the federal government, but the federal government is actively engaged in runaway spending. This excess spending will result in extreme inflation which would raise the price of food, gas, houses, and just about everything.
Considering the political differences and extreme partisanship that has come to characterize our politics, I am glad we were able to get the job done and avoid a government shutdown. Make no mistake, this legislative session was difficult. As a matter of fact, this was one of the post partisan legislative sessions I can remember. However, we got the job done for Minnesotans no matter how ugly the process. At the very least, I am proud of that.