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House finishes budget work, adjourns special session

Thursday, July 1, 2021

 

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House adjourned Thursday from a special session after having approved a series of omnibus finance bills to shape the state’s next two-year budget.

The $52 billion plan is an increase of more than 8 percent from the previous cycle. State Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, said he did not support such a sizeable increase, especially when many businesses and workers had suffered reduced income over the past year.

“That rate of spending increases simply cannot be sustained,” Green said. “At least we were able to prevent tax increases House Democrats and the governor were pushing. It really would have been out of line if they had gotten their way by raising taxes by billions of dollars on the same Minnesotans the governor’s own actions caused to lose income over the last year. Especially when the state has a historic surplus.”

Green said House Republicans were successful in gaining a partial extension of Minnesota’s reinsurance program to prevent health care costs from soaring. He also noted numerous anti-police measures that would have made it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our communities safe were blocked.

In addition, the Legislature on Wednesday approved language ending Minnesota’s peacetime emergency for COVID-19 the governor declared in March of 2020. The move came on a motion made by House Republicans to amend a state government finance omnibus bill which subsequently passed both bodies.

House Democrats then on Thursday amended language related to emergency onto an omnibus tax bill which was approved. Green said he objected to the change and expressed concern that it grants power to the governor’s commissioners to declare a public health emergency for nearly any reason without proper guardrails to prevent overreach.

“There are no safeguards to check this massive power,” Green said. “They will have authority over vaccines and who can supply them. There are no protections against vaccine passports. They will be able to bypass any laws they would they deem too time-consuming and the governor would have the ability to contract with any provider without public knowledge, with all liabilities removed. It is a horrible provision and we really need to keep an eye on this situation.”

Green indicated he has concern for a lack of progress on a couple of other issues. Legislative action was not taken preventing the governor from mandating California’s auto standards in Minnesota. And a long-term extension for Minnesota’s reinsurance program that has reduced health care costs also was not approved.

“The governor’s unilateral push to subject Minnesotans to California’s auto regulations needs to be stopped,” Green said. “He is going around the Legislature to unilaterally put California bureaucrats in charge of policy in Minnesota and force electric cars on our market. This would drive up the cost of vehicles for consumers and damage dealers by making them carry cars on their lots regardless of whether people want them.”

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