Sen. Gene Dornink: First session had successes, more work to be done

Published 5:16 pm Friday, June 3, 2022

This last May marked the end of my first legislative session as your senator, and it’s been a privilege to serve you and our community. I have worked hard to fight for our values and find opportunities to work with anyone, Republican or Democrat to get the job done for you.

This session had several bipartisan successes. We came together to pay the state’s debt owed on Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and issues frontline worker bonus checks. The debt on the Trust Fund was critical because without this we would have seen a massive tax hike on businesses, and that would have increased prices as those businesses had to absorb the increase. We passed legislation that lowers the costs of health insurance for Minnesotans on the individual market. A veterans bill passed that included funding for three veterans homes and bonuses for veterans in the War on Terror. This is especially important for us to recognize the thousands of Minnesotans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and I’m glad we were able to get it done.

Earlier this year, my Republican colleagues and I in the Senate rolled out a strong agenda focused on public safety and affording life in the face of rising inflation. I made a promise to help get Minnesota back on the right track. This included putting more peace officers on the streets and retaining the brave men and women we have now. It included over $8 billion in tax relief, the biggest tax cut ever, by cutting the lowest income tax rate nearly in half and fully repealing the tax on Social Security benefits. With a record surplus it was warranted for us to deliver record tax relief. We focused on the challenges nursing homes and long-term care centers and presented a package of bills that would have provided much needed funding for staff, recruitment, and training so that our loved ones have people taking care of them.

These priorities were important to the public and would have helped struggling Minnesotans across ages. It would have put money in people’s pockets, provided for safer communities, and supported those in long-term care. I will continue to work hard to accomplish all of these in our next legislative session.

We ended without providing meaningful tax relief to hard working Minnesotans, without increased support for public safety and law enforcement, and without resources to stabilize our struggling long-term care facilities.

Gov. Tim Walz and the Democrats were unwilling to pass any form of tax relief without also having huge increases in spending across the board. The negotiations on limited and targeted spending fell apart as Democrats continued to push for controversial policies and expansive spending that I just plain was unable to get behind. People are struggling and the economy is on edge, and I couldn’t support a government spending spree.