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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Friday, April 26, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

This week, we spent most of our time on the House floor debating and voting on omnibus finance bills. Here is a brief summary of the bills that were passed this week.

K-12 Education

As a former school board member, I have spent a great deal of energy during my time as a state representative working to improve the educational experience for Minnesota’s children. Education is something that is near and dear to my heart.

Sadly, the Democrats’ 2019 education bill completely misses the mark on a number of issues and puts the needs and concerns of teachers and specials interest groups ahead of our children.

In total, the bill spends $900 million additional dollars on education—relying mainly on gas tax increases and shifts from road and bridge funding to meet their unrealistically high budget target. Despite the funding increase, the bill makes worse the funding disparity between Metro schools and schools in the rest of the state by 4 percent.

Along with the out of control spending, the bill includes a number of controversial policy measures adopted at the request of Democrats’ largest campaign backers. The policy measures include undermining the bipartisan licensure reforms passed last session that were fiercely opposed by Education Minnesota and enacting sexual education requirements backed and drafted by Planned Parenthood. This mandated sex education curriculum includes what many to consider borderline pornographic material and should not be mandated and taught to elementary children.

Finally, the bill removes automatic denial and revocation requirements for teachers convicted of fifth-degree domestic assault. Even more shocking, the Democrats blocked an amendment to include stays of adjudication in education-related background studies, aimed at closing a dangerous loophole that previously allowed sex offenders to drive a school bus.

I voted “no” on this terrible bill and am hopeful that the Senate GOP is able to get most of the objectionable policy provisions removed in conference committee.

Jobs/Energy

On Wednesday night, the House approved the DFL’s 2019 jobs/energy omnibus bill. Like the education bill, this piece of legislation included out of control spending and a number of misguided policy provisions that will result in much higher electricity costs for Minnesotans.

Included in the bill is a one size fits all, government-run paid sick and family leave scheme that would take billions of dollars out of each and every Minnesotans’ paychecks if it were to become law. It would also have a crushing, negative effect on our small businesses.

In addition to these astronomical payroll taxes, the bill brings the Green New Deal one step closer to Minnesota. The 100% renewable energy by 2050 mandate in the bill will drive up electric bills for Minnesota families and reduce the reliability of our energy grid.

Health and Human Services

After hours of debate, the House approved the Health and Human Services omnibus bill on Thursday evening. Health and Human Services spending is the second largest component of the state budget eclipsed only by K-12 education.

The Democrats’ HHS bill spends $17.219 billion over the next two years. In order to fund all of their new programs, the bill slashes nursing home rates by $68 million while raising taxes on health care by restoring the provider tax and by creating a new tax on insulin manufacturers.

In addition to the spending and tax increases, the bill also establishes a OneCare buy-in program which threatens the financial viability of hospitals and clinics in Greater Minnesota through lower reimbursement rates.

I am also very disappointed that there was next-to-nothing in the bill to address waste, fraud, and abuse in the child care CCAP program subsidies. This program has been accused of over $100 million dollars of fraud at a time when we have thousands of families needing assistance with their daycare costs. In fact, Democrats are pouring MORE money into the broken CCAP program even though countless reports have detailed problems with the program.

Taxes

On Thursday, the House approved the 2019 omnibus tax bill.

The bill contains a number of new taxes that total more than $3 billion over the next four years including regressive taxes that disproportionately impact middle and lower income Minnesotans and new taxes on businesses that will increase the cost of goods and services and hurt wage growth for Minnesota employees.

The $3 billion in new taxes within this bill is part of a broader budget proposal by House Democrats that will raise taxes on Minnesotans by over $12 billion during the next four years including a 70% gas tax hike, billions in health care taxes, and over $2 billion in new taxes on Minnesotans paychecks to pay for their Paid Leave proposal. Raising these taxes along with the gas tax will dramatically increase the cost of goods and services for all Minnesotans especially hurting the poor and senior citizens on fixed incomes. The government needs to learn to live within its means just like our citizens, farms and businesses do!

While Democrats like to talk about the minimal tax cuts in this bill, Governor Walz’s own administration admitted that the Democrat tax hikes will raise taxes on all income levels, and hit low and middle-income hardest at a time when Minnesota government has a billion dollar surplus!

Staying in Touch

Stay tuned for more information on end-of-session news as we move into the final month of the legislation session.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 or via email at rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn.

Have a great week,

Glenn

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