The 2019 legislative session came to a close last Saturday morning with the completion of a one-day special session. The special session was needed in order to pass finance bills negotiated by the House Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, and Governor Walz.
I am disappointed that Democrats’ demands for $12 billion in new taxes resulted in the special session. However, even though it took “overtime” to finish our work, I am pleased to report that the vast majority of Democrats’ tax increases will not become law this year.
This includes Governor Walz’s 70% gas tax increase.
That’s good news for Minnesota!
Unfortunately, the “sick” tax was reinstated as part of budget negotiations. The sick tax is levied on most patient services in Minnesota and will directly raise the costs of health care by more than $2 billion over the next four years.
I was proud to vote no on this tax increase.
Here is a recap of some other items that I would consider “wins” from this year’s session:
- First income tax rate cut in 20 years: the tax bill lowered the second-tier rate from 7.05% to 6.8% beginning in 2019, allowing most Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
- No Gun Control: Thanks to bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate, none of Democrats' extreme gun control proposals survived in the final budget agreement.
- Extending Reinsurance: The final budget agreement extended reinsurance for two years, continuing a program that has proven to lower health care costs for families and become a national model that other states red and blue alike are following. Republicans also stopped harmful proposals like "ONEcare" that would have hurt rural hospitals thanks to their lower reimbursement rate.
- No Nursing Home Cuts: Republicans fought Democrat-backed efforts to cut $68 million from nursing homes. These cuts would have devastated budgets for nursing facilities and harmed care for aging Minnesotans.
- No Gas Tax: Republicans stood strong and blocked all of the Democrat-backed transportation tax increases, including the Governor's 70 percent increase to the gas tax.
- Cracking Down on Fraud: The final HHS bill included provisions to crack down on fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
- No ONEcare: Republicans defeated Governor Walz's ONEcare proposal, which would have hurt rural hospitals and was a next step toward a government takeover of health care.
- No Elections Policy: Democrat efforts to ram through controversial elections policy—breaking with the tradition of requiring bipartisan support for election measures—were halted as part of the final budget agreement.
As you can see, despite some disappointments, Republicans held strong and did a good job of preventing some extreme Democrat proposals from becoming law this year. Not too bad considering Democrats control the House and Governor’s mansion.
Staying in Touch
While the 2019 legislative session may be over, my job as your state representative does not end. Please continue to reach out to me to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns related to state government.
I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5356 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a good weekend,