Late last night, the Legislature completed the last of the 14 state agency finance bills that fund Minnesota state government. The governor is in possession of those bills, he now has the authority and funding to execute a full two-year state budget.
The $52 billion-plus state budget fully funds government and provides for important measures to continue to move Minnesota’s economy back to full capacity. The numerous outlandish policy changes put forward earlier in the year did not end up in the final bills. The anti-police measures that would damage public safety were blocked. Legalization of recreational marijuana - while much discussed, went nowhere.
We protected Minnesota’s reinsurance program that has spared many Minnesotans from double-digit health insurance premium increases. The program was extended for another year, but it will need more work next year. A state tax exemption was granted for the federal unemployment insurance bonuses and the Paycheck Protection Program grants, finally bringing Minnesota into alignment with surrounding states.
Both the House and Senate voted to definitively end the COVID-19 peacetime emergency declared by Gov. Walz almost 16 months ago. I was pleased to join in a unanimous vote in the House adopting an amendment to the State Government Finance Bill that ended the COVID-19 emergency powers, effective today (July 1).
The governor and state agencies retain the ability to effectively respond to public health issues and continue the important work of dealing with COVID-19. However, the governor can no longer arbitrarily override existing state law with respect to business operations, local school board prerogatives and individual personal choices.
The Minnesota Dept. of Revenue’s $29.35 million local property tax appraisal mistake on old Enbridge Line 3 is now corrected. Recently the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Tax Court issued judgements confirming the department’s egregious mistake requiring those illegitimate property taxes collected over several years be returned to the company. The Dept. of Revenue is directed to make counties, townships and school districts whole and be held harmless.
There are both gems and some clunkers in the state budget, however the bottom line is state government is fully funded and will continue uninterrupted. Over the next several updates I provide more detail on those gems and the occasional clunkers.
Please take time to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s a special opportunity to honor our nation’s founders and enjoy the freedom and liberties they made possible.