The 2022 legislative session began with universal bipartisan agreement that public safety and tax relief were the top priorities for lawmakers. Both parties held news conferences and sent out constituent e-mails pledging to take action on public safety and to use the state's record-setting surplus to cut taxes for Minnesota families struggling with inflation and gas prices in the Biden/Walz economy.
We Minnesota Republicans were ready to roll up our sleeves and tackle those two critical issues. We pushed for billions of dollars in tax cuts — the largest proposal in state history — that would have added hundreds of dollars to Minnesotans' paychecks each month by cutting the lowest-income tax bracket and permanently ending taxes on Social Security.
Republicans also introduced dozens of concrete proposals to boost funding for law enforcement, raise criminal penalties for carjackings and stop the revolving door that has fueled years of increased crime.
At any point during the session Gov. Tim Walz and fellow Democrats could have pushed one of the many bipartisan bills that had passed the Senate, like a Social Security tax cut or increased penalties for fentanyl — the deadly drug that's fueling a spike in drug overdoses.
But they didn't.
Throughout the session, Democrats repeatedly blocked tax cuts and tougher penalties for criminals while pushing for more expungements and funding for unaccountable nonprofit "violence interrupters" instead of local police.
So why did broadly bipartisan tax relief and public safety proposals fail? It's simple: House Democrats and the Walz administration simply don't support permanent tax cuts, increased funding for law enforcement or tougher penalties for criminals. When given the opportunity to vote on these issues, Democrats voted no and blocked the bills from even being talked about on the House floor.
This summer, House Republicans will be out on the campaign trail making the case that we can do better than the failed leadership we've seen from Democrats and Walz.
Next year, House Republicans will use government's unprecedented budget surplus to pass a record-setting tax cut, putting hundreds of dollars in the pockets of families and permanently ending all taxes on Social Security benefits for our seniors. With inflation at levels not seen in 40 years and gas prices reaching all-time highs, this should be one of the first bills passed in 2023.
The 2023 session will also be about restoring public safety and making sure communities have the resources to combat violent crime. For years, House Republicans have put forward detailed proposals aimed at recruiting and retaining police officers, strengthening consequences for repeat and violent criminals, and building on successful community programs like the COP House in St. Cloud. Those often bipartisan bills have repeatedly run into resistance from Democrats in the House.
Minnesotans have seen what Walz and Democrats would do if they stay in control — 70% gas tax increases and billions in tax hikes. Reduced funding for police, softer penalties for criminals, and allowing a mob to burn down a police precinct. Energy policies that will keep driving your electric bill higher and higher. Lower test scores in math, reading and science for our students. Skyrocketing health care premiums.
These are all things that make your life more expensive or difficult, but they're the core priorities for Democrats and the billionaire donors and dark-money groups funding their campaigns.
For Democrats, high gas prices are the point. Short sentences for criminals are the point. The destruction of private health care is the point.
Minnesota can do so much better. Electing a Republican House, Republican Senate and Scott Jensen as our governor will help us turn the page on the expensive and unsafe leadership we've seen under President Joe Biden, Gov. Walz and House Democrats.
Republicans are ready to deliver record-setting tax cuts. We're ready to get our schools back on track by focusing on academics and student achievement instead of on woke politics.
And perhaps most important, under Republican leadership Minnesota will once again be a state where crime has consequences, and where we have the backs of our law enforcement personnel.
Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, is minority leader of the Minnesota House.