Senate Report: Fixing the mistakes of the 2023 legislative session

Published 8:45 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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Senate Report by Gene Dornink

Friends and neighbors,

Gene Dornink

Last week, we got the February budget forecast, which gives us a good idea of our state’s financial future. Due to the $10 billion in Democratic tax increases last session, there is a $3.7 billion surplus in 2025. However, we are looking at a $1.5 billion structural deficit beginning in 2026. This means that we must be very cautious because any ongoing spending bills passed this year could further increase the structural deficit.

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That’s why we must change our spending habits and repair the damage done to the state budget and Minnesotans’ budgets. New spending is at the expense of taxpayers, and Minnesota families are already struggling to keep food on their tables and their bills paid. Minnesotans cannot afford another session of one-party control, and I am dedicated to advancing policies that will make your life more affordable.

The Senate recently passed a tax corrections bill to address the issues in last year’s tax bill. In the rush to pass their 2023 (record four volumes of new) laws, the Democrats made many, many mistakes. One of the mistakes they made in their tax bill would have cost Minnesota income taxpayers about $350 million. A second mistake in that law impacted businesses’ ability to deduct operating losses. Instead of taking effect in 2025, an error in the bill made the change effective this tax year. This means small businesses and entrepreneurs will pay about $15 million more in taxes.

The income taxpayer mistake was fixed, but the small business mistake was not — even though the chairs of the House and Senate Taxes Committees promised to fix both issues. What I find interesting is that the chair of the Senate Taxes Committee removed her name as the author of the “fix” bill and didn’t even vote on it. She knew the bill should have fixed both issues, and it appears that she was sending a strong message of disapproval to the Democratic leadership and Gov. Walz. We owe it to our hard-working small business owners and entrepreneurs to fix the mistake made to net operating losses. I will continue to fight for our main street employers.

Another item that we must fix this year is a school resource officer (SRO) law from last session. Last summer, dozens of SROs stepped down across our state due to uncertainty surrounding a new Democratic school discipline law. Our SROs keep our schools and students safe, and we must provide our officers with the clarity needed to do their jobs effectively. Republicans pushed for a special session to get the matter resolved as quickly as possible, but Democrats chose not to call one. This is an issue that can’t wait any longer, and Republicans will continue to push for a bipartisan solution to this problem.

In St. Paul, legislation is moving at a brisk pace, with Democrats continuing to push bills through the process like last year. We once again are seeing bills rushed and not given enough time to properly debate or amend the bills in committee. I am urging members across the aisle to take a pause and consider the implications of their agenda. We are still dealing with the mistakes of last session.

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