ST. PAUL – State Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said he is pleased most of the tax increases proposed by Gov. Tim Walz and the House majority were struck down in the process of setting a new two-year state budget.
A brief special session took place Friday and early Saturday after proposals to raise taxes by $12 billion caused budget talks to stall and no deal was in place when the Legislature’s May 20 date for adjournment arrived.
“There was no reason to be raising taxes by $12 billion, particularly when the state has a revenue surplus of $1 billion and growing,” Nornes said. “The good news is that, in the special session, we stopped the House majority and the governor from raising our gas tax by 20 cents per gallon, cutting nursing home funding by $68 million and abandoning the reinsurance program that put an end to double-digit health insurance premium increases on the individual market. Unfortunately, they did extend a tax on health care that will cost Minnesotans more than $2 billion after they promised to reduce health care costs.”
The special session was called by Walz after days of closed-door meetings, and a “tribunal” comprised of the governor, the House speaker, 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 largest budget bill was not publicly released until several hours after the special session had begun.
Nornes said House Republicans successfully negotiated changes that will enhance transparency next session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency and fix flaws in the structure implemented this year.
“Taxpayers deserve a process they can follow and the private meetings that took place at the end of the regular session and leading up to the special session made it impossible for the public to track what was happening at the Capitol,” Nornes said. “The changes we negotiated for next year should help open things up more and provide better transparency.”