Senate Report: Democrats look to spend the entirety of Minnesota’s surplus

Published 8:45 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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Friends and neighbors,

We have reached the halfway point in the 2023 legislative session, and now, the Minnesota Legislature will concentrate on crafting our state’s next two-year budget. Recently, House and Senate majority leaders, along with the governor, introduced their budget targets — the framework for committees to formulate their respective budgets.

Gene Dornink

An ongoing question that has been much discussed this session is: What should be done with the enormous $17.5 billion surplus? My Senate Republican colleagues and I have made it clear that much of this money should be given back to taxpayers — and the rest be used for key needs.

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That is why we introduced our “Give It Back” tax plan to demonstrate that tax relief must be a budget priority. If our plan were to become law, Minnesotans would see $13 billion over two years in permanent tax cuts and one-time rebates, including the full elimination of the tax on Social Security income. This can be sharply contrasted with the Democrats’ priority: spend the entirety of the state’s surplus and grow the size of government.

Democrats are bragging about there being no gridlock in the Legislature, but what we’re really seeing is the floodgates swung wide open. Meanwhile, they still manage to underfund nursing homes and agriculture.

The Democratic budget targets show nearly $18 billion in added spending, which is a record 30% increase to the state’s current budget. What is not present in this framework is the capacity for meaningful tax cuts for hard-working Minnesotans. With families struggling to afford necessities due to ongoing inflation, they need immediate financial relief. Yet instead of responding to Minnesotans’ critical needs, they are pushing for a massive spending increase.

Senate Republicans responded by introducing compromise budget targets. Our proposal shifts a cash bonding target to a general obligation bond target, freeing up $1.9 billion to invest in other areas. This shift provides permanent tax relief, a bonding bill that invests in infrastructure, support for Minnesotans struggling to find long-term care and a meaningful increase in the agriculture budget.

This may not be the last budget proposal from Republicans. It still spends too much, but this is a step toward improvement. Working folks, people needing nursing care, and rural interests deserve to be represented at the negotiating table. Our suggested path forward is a true compromise that puts Minnesotans first.
Happy Easter!

Easter Sunday is a time to celebrate the miracle and promise of new life. As you gather with family and friends, I invite you to count all the blessings in your lives. From my family to yours, happy Easter!

Contact me

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me. I want to hear your thoughts and your priorities for this legislative session! Feel free to email me at or give me a call at 651-296-5240.

Gene Dornink, R-Brownsdale, is the District 23 senator.