A little late-session ice cream puts a smile on faces of all ages, including young visitors.
The Legislature has completed its work, sent a new two-year budget to the governor and adjourned from a brief special session that took place Friday and early Saturday. The special session was necessary because proposals to raise taxes by $12 billion bogged down budget negotiations and no deal was in place when the Legislature’s May 20 date for adjournment arrived.
That was never realistic to raise taxes by $12 billion at a time the state has a $1 billion surplus and it just took time for the House majority and the governor to acknowledge that fact. We were successful in getting them to drop most of their tax increases, including their push to raise the gas tax by 20 cents. The one major exception is they did extend a tax on health care at a cost of more than $2 billion to Minnesotans.
Mental health grants for farmers and $8 million to help dairy farmers cover the costs of a federal Margin Protection Plan insurance program as successes of the session. The funding is directed toward smaller, family-type operations with fewer than 750 cows. An appropriation to provide mental health support for farmers was approved as well.
We also spared nursing homes from the $68 million Democrats were looking to cut from them, which is a huge win for Greater Minnesota. And, after so much resistance, Democrats finally agreed to extend the reinsurance plan we successfully created a couple of years ago to help get a handle on insurance premiums on the individual market.
I am pleased to have successfully brought to passage a bill that will help the Minneota school district rectify a funding shortage on a construction project by covering sales taxes on materials. I also received approval for a bill allowing people to use night-vision equipment while hunting foxes and coyotes.
House Republicans also 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.
People deserve to be able to follow along as decisions with significant impacts are made. This year was historically bad in terms of those key decisions being made in private and the changes we were successful in negotiating give hope that things will be better moving forward.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS NEXT WEEK
We can talk about the new budget and other legislative issues during a series of town hall meetings I am co-hosting with Sen. Dahms throughout District 16A this coming Tuesday (June 4). Here is the itinerary:
I hope you can join us for these town halls. If you can’t make it, feel free to reach out to me using the contact info in this email.