ST. PAUL – State Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, said she is pleased most of the tax increases proposed by Gov. Tim Walz and the House majority were struck down in the process of setting a new two-year state budget.
A brief special session took place Friday and early Saturday after proposals to raise taxes by $12 billion caused budget talks to stall and no deal was in place when the Legislature’s May 20 date for adjournment arrived.
“It is good we were able to avoid the gas tax, especially since it would have been most damaging to people of lower incomes and the burden would have disproportionately impacted those of us in Greater Minnesota in general,” Demuth said. “Unfortunately, the governor and the House majority did not allow the 2-percent tax on health care to expire this year as scheduled. We should have let that sunset, but now we will be robbed of those tax savings we could have experienced.”
Demuth also pointed to passage of the first income tax rate cut in decades, mental health support 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 latter funding is directed toward smaller, family-type operations with fewer than 750 cows.
Demuth also highlighted 2 percent more K-12 education funding each of the next two years that was approved, with more money to enhance school safety and to cover the rising costs of special education.
“As someone who previously served the ROCORI School Board, it is satisfying to see we not only made a strong funding commitment to our children, but also prevented some controversial policies from reaching enactment,” Demuth said. “From sex ed mandates designed by Planned Parenthood to ill-advised disciplinary policy changes, we kept a number of concerning proposals out of the classroom and I see those as wins as well.”
A proposal to cut nursing homes by $68 million also was defeated and a reinsurance program to hold down the cost of health insurance for those on the individual market was extended, two other developments Demuth said are legislative victories.
In addition, Demuth said House Republicans successfully negotiated changes that will enhance transparency during next year’s session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency and fix flaws in the structure implemented this year.
“We owe it to our taxpayers to conduct legislative business in full view of the public,” Demuth said. “The way things played out this year, with billion-dollar decisions being made behind closed doors, does a disservice to people in our state and I look forward to improving the process next year.”