It’s been a busy week in St. Paul as supplemental omnibus budget bills are making their way to the House floor for debate and votes before the entire legislative body. I plan to evaluate each omnibus package on its own merits; however, it will be difficult to support the House Democrat majority’s budget bills because they are looking to spend nearly all of the state’s $9.3 billion budget surplus on growing government and bureaucracy.
I have long been clear that Minnesotans should have the budget surplus returned to them through significant, permanent tax relief.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the bills that were debated and voted on this week.
As the Republican-lead on the House Education Policy Committee, I spend a great deal of time and energy on improving Minnesota’s schools. That’s why I am so disappointed in this year’s supplemental education budget bill.
After more than a year of school closures, House Democrats do nothing in this bill to make up for lost classroom time or to improve student learning. Instead, it is filled with a bevy of mandates that impact public, nonpublic, and home schooling that ultimately take power and decisions-making away from parents—concentrating it with bureaucrats.
Education spending goes up significantly in the bill with more than $1 billion being spent in 2023. Most of the funding goes to Minneapolis and St. Paul as they are seeing their per-pupil increase by $1,400. In greater Minnesota, the per-pupil increase is going up an average of $775.
Finally, the bill mandates classroom instruction in elementary and secondary schools that would require students to analyze power, race, class, and gender and how those factors impact issues like climate, health, food, housing, education, and policy in Minnesota.
Students are struggling academically, and test scores have been stagnant. We should be focusing on reading, math, and science instead of controversial and politically charged curriculum.
The bill was approved on a party-line vote on Wednesday. I expect the Senate Republican majority to block many of these controversial policies from becoming law.
House Democrats included supplemental budget items related to state government finance, veterans, pension, and transportation into a single bill.
Minnesota has a fully funded state budget, but Democrats continue to waste millions of dollars in this bill on growing government, investing in more trains and light rail, and pursuing an expensive new mileage tax instead of prioritizing roads, bridges, and tax cuts.
I am also concerned that Democrats are ignoring years of tradition that any changes to election procedures in Minnesota must have broad bipartisan consensus.
On Thursday, the House approved the supplemental environment and natural resources budget bill. Instead of common-sense policies that fulfill our responsibility to preserve and maintain Minnesota’s rich natural resources for generations to come, Democrats are wasting taxpayer dollars by providing a 69% increase in spending.
Additionally, the bill includes anti-business and anti-farming regulations that will make Minnesota a less welcoming state for job providers, farmers, and raise costs for Minnesota families.
The supplemental higher education budget bill was approved today, Friday. The bill contains supplemental funding for the Office of Higher Education, Minnesota State, and the University of Minnesota. It increases spending by $100 million in 2023 and $150 million in 2024-2025.
I am disappointed that this bill does nothing to lower the costs of tuition or to address the issues that are causing higher education prices to continue to rise.
Later today, the House is expected to approve Democrats’ public safety bill. The bill will likely pass on a party-line vote with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing.
Public safety is top of mind for most Minnesotans and this bill feels like a missed opportunity where we could have come alongside law enforcement and worked with them to keep our communities safe.
Instead of holding criminals accountable, Democrats are pushing to reduce sentences—including for violent criminals—and automatically erase offenders’ records from the public. They are also looking to fund unproven community groups and “violence interrupters” that divert money from law enforcement that could be used to recruit and train new officers.
Law enforcement groups are opposed to the bill as it does nothing to improve public safety.
Instead of demonizing police while going easy on criminals, we should instead work with law enforcement to keep our communities safe.
Thursday, May 5, is National Day of Prayer for which I will be the House chaplain and also plan to participate in the public prayer gathering on the capitol mall. It is very important that we dedicate at least one national day to join millions of others to pray for our nation and our citizens. If you have a local prayer gathering, such as the one in Milaca, I invite you to attend because prayer brings all of us together.
I encourage you to reach out to me with any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have on issues related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at email@example.com.
Have a good day,