A pair of gas stations along Hwy. 10 provide a stark visual for how much gas prices have risen in the Biden-Walz economy. The station in the foreground closed a couple of years ago and still shows prices from the last day it was open: $1.83 per gallon of unleaded and $2.09 for diesel. The station off in the distance remains in business and recently was selling unleaded for $4.54 per gallon ... $5.62 for diesel!
It’s been good being able to spend more time back home in District 15B since the 2022 session ended a handful of weeks ago. There have been places to go, people to see, lots to talk about and one nearly constant topic throughout: people have had it with the historic price increases they are suffering in today’s Biden-Walz economy.
The latest Consumer Price Index update shows prices have jumped 9.1 percent in the last 12 months, a level of inflation the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports we have not seen since November of 1981. For context, one website took a look back to that year to see what else happened at that time:
“In 1981, the federal minimum wage was $3.35 per hour and the average national income was $10,495. The best-selling car was the Oldsmobile Cutlass and songs like ‘Endless Love’ by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie and ‘9 To 5’ by Dolly Parton were topping Billboard charts. Superman II was the top-grossing movie, and Americans put Dallas, The Jeffersons, and Three's Company at the top of the TV ratings.”
Simply, people are being crushed by price increases to a degree many never have experienced. And, all the while, our state government continues to rake in more revenue. A July 11 report indicates Minnesota has collected $2.9 billion more than projected in the February 2022 Budget and Economic Forecast.
Those new surplus dollars are on top of the several billion more left on the state’s bottom line when the 2022 session ended. (House Democrats wanted to use the surplus to spend $21 for every $1 in tax cuts instead of agreeing to historic tax relief proposed by Republicans in the House and Senate.)
Price increases on gas and energy are among the most damaging to family budgets these days. Seniors and others on fixed incomes are really feeling the pinch – especially since House Democrats prevented passage of legislation Republicans proposed to end the state tax on Social Security.
As for energy, I continue to stress that we need diversity on our grid to ensure a reliable, affordable supply. This is an issue I am working closely with, especially as a member of the House committee on energy and someone who represents a district that is home to a major energy producer. The extreme energy agenda we are seeing pushed by Democrats at the state and federal level is driving up prices and leaving us more vulnerable to energy shortages that could be catastrophic in Minnesota.
I recently participated in a legislative tour of the Prairie Island nuclear facility in Red Wing to learn more about their operation and to hear their plans for the future. This is a source of clean energy that needs to remain in our toolbox as one part of the equation to help Minnesota meet rising demand. We are at something of a crossroads on energy and I will keep working to push back against bad ideas and bring some common sense and logic to our state’s long-term planning.
That’s all for now but, before we close, I should mention Friday brings us to 60 days removed from the end of the 2022 regular session. At that point, newsletters such as this must be put on hold until after the November election. Of course, I can still communicate with constituents individually, so please continue reaching out to me if there is an issue you’d like to discuss or if there’s something I can do to be of assistance.
Have a good summer and we’ll be back in touch after the blackout period ends this fall and we begin looking ahead to the 2023 session.