Minnesota's new Democratic Senate majority is already showing signs of internal friction, with four freshmen pushing leadership to eliminate the state's tax on Social Security income.
Newly elected Sens. Grant Hauschild, DFL-Hermantown, Heather Gustafson, DFL-Vadnais Heights, Rob Kupec, DFL-Moorhead, and Judy Seeberger, DFL-Afton, called for repealing the tax in a joint statement Wednesday.
"As four incoming Senators who helped deliver the majority to the DFL, we will be making this our top budget priority," they said. "Not only does [the tax] burden many of Minnesota's seniors, it also leads to retirees leaving the state for others where this benefit is not taxed."
Minnesota is among just 12 states that tax Social Security benefits, according to the AARP.
Lawmakers had agreed to eliminate the Social Security tax in a sweeping deal earlier this year, but the package fell apart in the legislative session's final days.
Their comments come after DFL Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic expressed skepticism about fully repealing the tax, which generates about $500 million per year. She raised concerns about the budget hole it would leave.
"I'm on the record for having deep concerns about that," Dziedzic said Tuesday while reacting to Minnesota's record $17.6 billion budget surplus.
Democrats will hold a one-seat majority in the Senate, leaving no room for defection.
House Majority Leader Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis, said he "shared Sen. Dziedzic's concerns," particularly regarding eliminating the Social Security tax for "very wealthy" Minnesotans.
DFL Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that he supported repealing the Social Security tax for "a large number of Minnesotans."
Across the political aisle, Republican House Minority Leader Lisa Demuth said Minnesota should end the Social Security tax "across the board."