Hello from St. Paul,
The 2022 session has ended, and despite much talk about a global agreement between House and Senate leadership as to how to allocate the billions of state surplus dollars that are projected, a complete proposal never made its way to the House floor before session adjourned.
I would have supported a proposal that provided significant and permanent tax relief to our residents. With costs skyrocketing on groceries, gasoline, and nearly everything else, allowing Minnesotans to keep more of what they earn would have been helpful. The issue would have been in exchange for a tax relief bill, billions of dollars in new - and permanent - spending obligations within state government would also have come forward, as that was the priority of the House Democrat majority. Those dramatic spending increases would have put an end to our streak of budget surpluses, and they would have plunged us back into regular deficits and tax hikes.
It's worth remembering that this is not a budget year, so the surplus did not have to be allocated. Any spending we might have added this year would have become permanent and would have added billions more to our current biennial budget total.
Not spending away the surplus now also could be beneficial later. If we see an economic downturn in the next few months, we will be happy we did not permanently increase our state’s spending obligations by billions of dollars. If the economy is strong and much of the projected surplus remains, we can help Minnesotans who are struggling to pay their bills with a permanent tax relief package.
One of the two biggest legislative accomplishments this year was resolving Minnesota’s unemployment insurance trust fund debt problem. By doing so, we eliminated a 15% tax increase on every employer in the state. The second major win was an agreement to extend Minnesota’s reinsurance program, which significantly lowers health insurance premium rates for those Minnesotans who are forced to purchase it on the individual market.
But on the issue of state surplus allocation, the House and Senate did not reach an agreement and that is an issue that will be revisited in January.
Talk to you soon,