Before we get to today’s legislative business, I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families of two children who died in Fergus Falls and Breckenridge the last couple of weeks. You are in my prayers.
As for work at the Capitol, a tax incidence study conducted by Governor Dayton’s own Department of Revenue shows that tax changes proposed in the governor’s supplemental budget would raise taxes on Minnesotans of every income level, while also making Minnesota's tax code more regressive.
The report shows Minnesotans in every income bracket would suffer a tax increase and households making less than $32,000 would be hit hardest. In total, it would make Minnesota's tax code more regressive in nature. Governor Dayton has proposed reinstating more than $1 billion in health care tax increases, repealing tax reductions enacted last session, and numerous changes reacting to tax changes at the federal level.
For all of the governor’s talk about raising taxes on the rich, this proposal would damage Minnesotans across the board.
The House is in the process of assembling its own supplemental plan and our focus is on returning the state surplus to Minnesotans in the form of tax relief, as we also work to hold Minnesotans harmless to whatever extent is possible as we adjust to massive tax changes at the federal level. I will have more on the House proposal very soon.
A visit from Otter Tail County native Tim Barry.
On another subject, a rather interesting meeting took place in my legislative office this week when Otter Tail County native and current Moorhead resident Tim Barry stopped by to talk about decriminalizing mental health.
It is easy to talk about making improvements on any given subject, but Tim is literally walking the walk. He left Moorhead on foot Easter Sunday, intending to walk all the way to the Capitol in St. Paul to discuss inadequacies he has discovered in the mental health system. He makes a rather compelling case in describing how a broken system has failed his daughter, resulting in her ping-ponging between treatment and incarceration.
Previously unbeknownst to Tim, a bill on this subject was scheduled to be taken up by a House committee the very day he arrived at the Capitol. The bill (H.F. 1974) is authored by Rep. Tony Albright of Prior Lake and it would convene a 13-member work group to address mental health and substance use disorder. To say Tim is committed to improving the system is an understatement and he provided good testimony to the committee.
Click here for more on Tim’s story from Valley News Live.
On a final note, an omnibus bill containing numerous provisions related to higher education approved by the Higher Education Committee which I chair should soon reach the floor for a vote of the full House. I may pass along more information on that in an upcoming update.