Now that the legislative session has come to an end, Minnesotans should carefully reflect on the outcomes and how they will affect their lives.
Minnesotans voted last fall and made their choice for single-party control of state government. What we are going to do is hold Democrats accountable for the promises they made to earn full control of state government. They promised things like tax relief and support for law enforcement, and said they'd help Minnesotans struggling with rising costs in their everyday lives. They broke those promises and we're all going to pay the price.
Instead of keeping their campaign promises, Democrats passed a laundry list of partisan priorities and sent Minnesotans the bill. The simple fact is, if it was a priority for Democrats and their special interests, they did it.
The historic surplus meant politicians of both parties promised to lower taxes and give the surplus back. Gov. Tim Walz promised Minnesotans huge rebate checks of at least $1,000. People are going to be disappointed to learn that the rebate checks are only $260, and many Minnesotans won't see a penny.
Several Democrats in both the House and Senate campaigned on the full elimination of the tax on Social Security and said they would hold their votes to get it. Republicans gave plenty of opportunities for any of them to join us and hold true to that promise, but they failed to keep their word. Minnesota will continue to be one of only 11 states that still tax income from Social Security benefits.
On top of measly and temporary tax relief in the tax bill, Democrats raised $9 billion in taxes and fees across the budget — and we're still counting. Minnesotans will pay more when they get their tabs renewed, register their boats, buy gas, order online, shop in the metro area or buy a car. All workers will pay new taxes for a new statewide mandate and bureaucracy for an untested paid-leave system that will eliminate private paid-leave benefits many workers have and like. Everyone will be paying more to fund out-of-control spending. The small tax rebate is temporary, but the tax hikes are permanent.
Another campaign promise from Democrats was a commitment to public safety. We offered bills to get tough on crime, support cops and keep our communities safe. Democrats instead voted to make 92% of the prison population — more than 7,000 criminals — eligible for early release and reduced their jail time. Democrats are taking chances with public safety as they push through soft-on-crime policies that will do nothing to prevent criminal activity.
All of this has been done in one of the least bipartisan sessions ever. We saw dozens of strong, bipartisan positions get stripped out of conference committee reports, many times with no discussion, in the dark of night and to the shock of the Republican authors. Legislation is stronger when it is built with support from both parties and includes the feedback of people from across the state.
The final bonding bill passed this session was the first bill where Republicans were needed. It is a better bill because it includes the priorities of Republican members to improve roads, provide clean water and support public safety. In exchange for Republican votes to pass a bonding bill, Republicans fought for — and secured — $300 million toward nursing homes. We've seen too many nursing homes close, and there are dozens more at risk.
Democrats completely shortchanged nursing homes in their budget and were willing to fund billions to special interests over helping nursing homes. Thanks to the efforts of legislative Republicans, nursing homes received a lifeline, and many will keep their doors open because of it.
This session will be described as "transformative," and it certainly has been. But the changes wrought by unchecked power will almost certainly make Minnesota a less affordable place to live, work and, yes, raise a family for the majority of Minnesotans. That's not the transformation voters asked for, and it's up to them to hold Democrats accountable for their broken promises.
Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, is minority leader of the Minnesota Senate. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, is minority leader of the Minnesota House.