ST. PAUL – The Legislature adjourned Monday with priorities such as converting a massive state surplus to historic tax relief and improving public safety at a time violent crime is soaring unresolved.
State Rep. Matt Bliss, R-Pennington, said he adamantly supports eliminating the state’s tax on Social Security and listed that as a top consequence for inaction that he said largely was caused by House Democrats withholding a tax bill until additional spending for state programs was approved. Neither happened by the deadline of midnight Sunday.
“It’s a shame the House majority held tax relief hostage in an attempt to spend more on government programs, especially since this is not a budget year and the state already is fully funded for the biennium," Bliss said. “And the governor himself apparently put the kibosh on one bill, with a Democrat legislator admitting he was instructed to rescind an offer made during negotiations.
“Minnesotans are trying to deal with record price increases at a time the state has a historic surplus, but House Democrats were insistent on raising government spending by 15 percent or more compared with the last budget. That proved to be a deal-breaker.”
Bliss did applaud the Legislature’s early-May approval of funding for construction cost increases and furnishings for the state’s three new veterans homes, including one in in Bemidji. And he said he is pleased legislation to repay Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund deficit and reverse tax hikes on employers received approval earlier this month.
“That UI bill took far longer to pass than necessary because the House majority dragged its feet, but at least we got there,” Bliss said. “Tax relief will remain a top priority for me, whether it’s when the Legislature returns in 2023 or if the governor calls a special session before then. My only word of caution is that I do not want to see us settle for temporary tax gimmicks when people deserve structural reductions and reform that will benefit them for the long haul.”
Bliss also said House Democrats refused to fund law enforcement this session and blocked increased penalties for criminals – including a bill that would crack down on fentanyl as our country deals with record-setting overdose deaths driven by this deadly drug.
“It is a mistake to continue turning a blind eye to the increase in violent crime our state is experiencing,” Bliss said. “Yes, this issue is mainly centered on our major cities, but we are seeing impacts throughout the state and we can’t continue losing Minnesotans to senseless killings. Public safety is our government’s top responsibility and, right now, we are failing in this regard largely because of extreme views that want to defund the police instead of doing more to support law enforcement so they can make our streets safer.”