COMMENTARY: Rep. Steve Green says most tax increases abandoned in state budget agreement
I am 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 May 24 and 25 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 was concerning that House Democrats and the governor wanted to raise taxes by $12 billion, especially at a time the state has a surplus of $1 billion and growing. It is good to see common sense prevailed on that issue and it is especially good the Democrats' push to raise the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon was defeated. It also is pleasing to see bills Democrats authored to compromise our gun rights were defeated and their extreme energy mandates that would have caused our utility rates to soar did not reach enactment.
We also stopped the Democrats' proposal to cut nursing home funding by $68 million and prevented them from putting Planned Parenthood in charge of sex ed being taught to our children. So, when you look at the big picture, many of the positives from this year at the Capitol come down to blocking bad ideas the Democrats put forward.
The special session was called by Walz after days of closed-door meetings, and a "tribunal" comprised of the governor, the House speaker and the Senate majority leader. Some conference committees did not adopt a single provision in a public setting, resulting in entire bills being decided in private. The largest budget bill was not publicly released until several hours after the special session had begun.
House Republicans successfully negotiated changes that will enhance transparency next session, including a change to the House committee structure that will increase transparency and fix flaws in the structure Democrats implemented this year.
This business of making the session's biggest decisions in private needs to end and I hope the changes we were able to negotiate will bring a better process in the future. The least we can do for taxpayers is let them see what is happening in St. Paul. Anything less is unacceptable and this year was historically bad in the way lawmaking was conducted.