Senate Report: Legislative session leaves Minnesotans behind

Published 8:45 pm Friday, July 14, 2023

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Senate Report by Gene Dornink

Friends and neighbors,

I am hoping everyone is having a great summer. We recently celebrated and recognized our nation’s Declaration of Independence. We truly are blessed to live in America. I like to read over the Declaration from time to time — but especially over the Fourth.

Gene Dornink

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It is a good reminder to all of us, but especially to those of us who are public servants. We need to remember our power and authority is given to governments by you, the people. A public servant’s job is to protect God-given rights and be good stewards of the money that is given to government by you — the taxpayers. Government needs to be accountable in how they spend your money.

We need to prioritize how we spend at the government level and prioritize essential areas such as transportation and water infrastructure, law enforcement, education and our most vulnerable, including the elderly.

Unfortunately, while most of us are tightening our belts in response to inflation, state government’s operating budget increased by nearly 40% — from $52 billion to nearly $72 billion in one year. It is true that inflation has caused stress to government budgets, but it has also put great pressure on Minnesotans’ budgets. I continue to hear from Minnesota families that they are struggling to afford costs in their daily lives due to historic inflation. Yet unlike state government, Minnesotans cannot vote to provide themselves with a 40% raise.

To make matters worse, this session also resulted in taxes being raised on hard-working Minnesotans. This session started with a nearly $18 billion surplus, and I shared throughout this year that a massive surplus calls for meaningful tax relief. Yet Democrats favored this historic spending agenda over financial relief, resulting in nearly $9 billion in tax increases. From increased fishing licenses and car registrations to new gas taxes, these tax hikes will not solely affect the metro. Residents from rural communities will be hurt as much, if not more so, than metro Minnesota.

Additionally, Democrats also promised to “fully fund” schools, but their countless new mandates actually made things worse. Throughout this session, cities, counties, and schools from across our state shared their strong concern with the costly mandates being pushed in St. Paul. I’ve heard from local schools that the increase to the education formula will not cover all the countless new mandates. Instead of listening to local school boards, Democrats decided they know better how to run our schools.

Finally, Minnesota nursing homes face a dire staffing crisis. That is why I shared that our vulnerable seniors must be a priority. Yet this year’s Human Services budget only provides $100 million in loans to nursing homes. This is inadequate funding which will not keep these facilities open. To ensure our seniors continue to receive high-quality care, Republicans fought and secured $300 million in funding for nursing homes at the end of session. Were it not for our resolve, Minnesota could have lost up to 40 nursing homes in the coming year.

With the countless new mandates and fees, I think it’s fair to say that government is a big winner this session. However, it’s clear that hard-working Minnesotans were left behind. Democrats spent every dollar of the $18 billion surplus, and taxpayers will ultimately foot the costly bill of their extreme one-party agenda.

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