ST. PAUL – State Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, said he 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.
“Raising taxes by $12 billion was a non-starter, but the governor and House liberals pushed us all the way to a special session before they were willing to admit it and move on,” Mekeland said. “It’s hard to comprehend the fact that, all in the same budget, they wanted to raise the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon, cut nursing home funding by $68 million and create another tax on Minnesotans’ paychecks to pay for a new government program.
“Fortunately, we defeated all of those proposals and the liberals’ big source of pride this year seems to be extending a tax on health care that will cost Minnesotans $2 billion at a time the state has a surplus of $1 billion and growing. That’s probably not something they should be writing home about.”
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 behind closed doors. The largest budget bill was not publicly released until several hours after the special session had begun.
Mekeland said 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 implemented this year.
“Liberals promised to increase transparency, but instead completely undermined our system of government to make this year’s most important decisions out of public view,” Mekeland said. “That is unacceptable and the improvements we negotiated should make for an improved process so taxpayers know what’s happening with their money.”