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Looking back at 2022 Legislature, looking ahead to possible special session

The 2022 session reached its conclusion this week. Here is a look how that unfolded, along with a Memorial Day message:

Memorial Day

Monday is Memorial Day and I hope this weekend you keep our fallen service members in mind as we remain forever grateful for the ultimate sacrifice of those who died for the United States of America. Their courage and dedication to defending us and protecting our liberties shall never be forgotten. I hope you are able to attend Memorial Day programs in our area this weekend as we honor these true American heroes.

Legislature adjourns

The Legislature adjourned Monday with unresolved priorities such as converting a massive state surplus to historic tax relief and improving public safety at a time violent crime is soaring.

House Democrats’ insistence on increasing government spending by billions of dollars caused tax relief to stall. Senate Republicans proposed more than $8 billion in tax relief, while House Democrats were looking to spend $21 for every $1 in tax cuts.

Tax relief should have been a tap-in this session. People are getting crushed by price increases at every turn, yet the state has a massive surplus so we were in position to help the people out with permanent, meaningful relief.

Instead, House Democrats were so bent on increasing government spending by 15 percent or more compared with the last budget, that they held tax relief hostage to the end. It is just good that, earlier this month, legislation was passed to repay Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund deficit and reverse that needless tax hike on employers.

Public safety stalls

Public safety improvements also were derailed because House Democrats refused to fund law enforcement and blocked increased penalties for criminals – including a bill that would crack down on fentanyl as our country deals with record-setting overdose deaths driven by this deadly drug.

Public safety is government’s top responsibility, and it is a shame that House Democrats are unwilling to take this issue seriously as violent crime runs rampant. Instead of doing more to support local law enforcement, they continue pushing to spend more tax dollars on unproven and unaccountable non-profit groups.

Local projects held up

I’m also concerned about local projects that aren’t being funded because a capital investment bill was left undone. We fought hard to make sure they were included in this year’s bonding bill and those, too, may have to wait because House Democrats didn’t bring that bill to the floor.

Special session?

Gov. Tim Walz could call a special session in the coming weeks to address this session’s unfinished business. For that to happen, firm agreement on the finished product would need to be in hand.

The big question is whether we actually need a special session. The state already is fully funded for the biennium and, in all likelihood, a special session would result in billions of dollars that could be used for tax cuts being spent on government programs. If that’s the case, as disappointing as it may be, I’d rather wait until January when a new Legislature can focus on delivering real tax relief instead of settling for less now.

Time will tell how this plays out, but meaningful tax relief and improved public safety will remain top priorities as we look forward to the 2023 session.

— Chris Swedzinski is a Republican from Ghent and represents District 16 A in the Minnesota House

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