By Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano
With the state’s next two-year budget in place and the Legislature having adjourned for 2019, here’s a quick recap of what made the cut this year, what fell by the wayside and a bit of unfinished business:
In the big picture, House Republicans spent the 2019 session focused on making health care more affordable and lowering your taxes. Unfortunately, Democrats wanted to raise your taxes (including extending a tax on health care) and create new mandates on businesses. In fact, the budget put forward by House Democrats and Gov. Tim Walz have increased the tax burden on families of every income level, making gas, health care, and everyday goods and services more expensive for Minnesota families.
In the end, the vast majority of the harmful proposals citizens of District 29A expressed concern over were blocked. I am pleased we were able to stop everything from raising taxes by more than $12 billion to new restrictions on guns and putting Planned Parenthood in charge of sex ed. taught to our children in public schools.
Also, despite a $1 billion surplus and billions in proposed tax hikes, the House majority pushed for $68 million in cuts to nursing homes. These cuts would have hurt care for our aging loved ones, and made it even harder for facilities to keep their doors open. House Republicans fought these cuts all session and, fortunately, they were not included in the final budget agreement.
With that $1 billion surplus, there is no reason for the massive tax increases that were proposed, particularly in regard to transportation. Republicans stopped a massive 70% increase – 20 cents per gallon – held off a light rail sales tax increase and held the line on increased tab fees that would have added more than $1,000 to your tab costs over the life of your vehicle. Even the Senate Democrats voted against the 20-cent gas tax increase.
Second Amendment Republicans held off bills that would have restricted the rights of law-abiding gun owners and there were no gun control bills passed this session.
As for things we helped get into law, for the first time in 20 years Minnesotans will see a reduction in their income tax rates. The second income tax tier will drop from 7.05% to 6.8%, putting more money in Minnesotan’s paychecks. In addition, federal conformity will reduce the headaches and make filing simple next tax season. This is great news for Minnesota’s middle-class tax payers and I thank the governor for signing this bill into law, along with other bills providing strong funding for education, roads and bridges and our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly.
Also, the “reinsurance” health insurance program Republicans led to enactment during the last biennium was extended. After years of double-digit increases on premiums, this program has successfully reduced costs for Minnesotans and has become a national model.
Some business from this session remains unfinished. This includes fighting child care fraud, where House Republicans were leading voices in the effort to crack down on this problem. While there’s still more work to do, the final budget agreement included important steps to begin cracking down on fraud and ensure your tax dollars are being respected – not going to fraudsters.
While it is good we were able to hold many bad ideas at bay this year, you can expect them to be brought back up for discussion in 2020. We are fortunate to have a Republican majority in the Senate to help provide some checks and balances.
Divided power at the Capitol means compromises need to be made, but there are certain areas – such as constitutional rights, taxpayer protection and fiscal responsibility – where I remain unwavering. Thank you for the continued support and hope to see you around the district this summer.