The 2019 legislative session came to a close on May 24 following the completion of a one-day special session. Unfortunately, a special session was needed to pass the budget bills negotiated by the Senate Majority Leader, House Speaker, and Governor Walz.

Thankfully, when all was said and done, House and Senate Republicans were successful in defeating most of the extreme tax increases being proposed by Governor Walz and House Democrats.

Despite our success defeating the 70 percent gas tax increase and a whole host of other tax increases, I am disappointed that the final budget agreement raises health care taxes on Minnesotans via reinstatement of the “sick” tax.

With his first session in the books, it’s clear that Governor Walz failed to live up to his “one” Minnesota slogan. I will continue to fight for the good folks of western Minnesota and ensure that the voice of Greater Minnesota is well represented in St. Paul.

Some other items from this year’s legislative session that I consider “wins” include:

The first income tax rate cut in 20 years thanks to a tax bill that lowers the second-tier rate from 7.05 percent to 6.8 percent beginning in 2019, allowing most Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money. This historic rate reduction, along with federal conformity will mean more money in people’s pockets and fewer headaches next tax season.

Gun-control legislation was defeated this year thanks to bipartisan opposition in the House and Senate.

The final budget agreement extended reinsurance for two years, continuing a program that has proven to lower health care costs for families and become a national model that other states red and blue alike are following.

I fought hard to prevent Democrat efforts to cut $68 million from nursing homes. Thankfully, these harmful cuts were not included in the final budget agreement. These cuts would have devastated budgets for nursing facilities and harmed care for aging Minnesotans.

My colleagues in the House and Senate stood strong and blocked all of the Democrat-backed transportation tax increases, including the Governor’s 70 percent increase to the gas tax.

The final Health and Human Services bill included provisions to crack down on fraud in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

Finally, I fought hard and was able to prevent Gov. Walz from implementing his plan for government-run health care that would have hurt rural hospitals leaving folks in our area with less health care choices.

While the session may be over for the year, my job as your state representative does not end. Please continue to reach out to me with any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may have regarding state government. I can be reached on my office number at 651-296-4929 or my cell phone at 701-361-1909. You can also reach by email at rep.jeff.backer@house.mn, or via U.S. Mail at 203 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155.

It is an honor serving you and your family in St. Paul!

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