Congratulations to the Fergus Falls Otters girls hockey team for advancing to the state high school hockey tournament this week in St. Paul. While legislative duties kept me at the Capitol, I was able to check in on the quarterfinals game from my office. Congratulations again on a great season and good luck against Rochester Lourdes in Saturday’s consolation championship.
One of this week’s more notable events at the Capitol was a Sovereignty Day event on Monday. It featured representatives from all 11 of our tribal nations addressing the full House of Representatives in the House Chamber. This event was historic and the messages that were delivered were well received. Thanks to all those who shared their thoughts and ideas with the House and I hope it helps lead to positive developments.
Budget news made headlines this week when Gov. Tim Walz released his proposal for the 2020-21 biennium on Tuesday. It includes more than $3 billion in tax increases over the next two years alone, and $4.7 billion in tax increases for 2022-23. The governor’s proposal would raise Minnesota’s gas tax by 20 cents, making Minnesota’s gas tax to fourth-highest in the nation.
This would be bad news for Greater Minnesota and low- to middle-income earners in particular. Just two years ago House Republicans used a much better approach by directing sales taxes we already pay when purchasing auto parts toward roads and bridges. This provided a historic investment in roads and bridges without resorting to raising taxes. Instead of taking good ideas and running with them, the governor is looking dismantle that sales tax dedication and is instead pushing to raise the gas tax by 70 percent, making Minnesota’s gas tax one of the nation’s most expensive.
Not only that, but the governor’s plan also includes increases to tab fees, the motor vehicle sales tax, the metro area sales tax, business taxes, and reinstatement of the sick tax, which is set to expire at the end of the year, adding $1 billion to the cost of health care for Minnesotans over the next two years.
In 2020-21, the governor’s budget raises general fund tax revenue by $1.2 billion. The extension of the sick tax adds an additional $947 million, with transportation-related taxes adding $907 million for a total tax increase of $3.1 billion. In 2022-23, the tax increases balloon dramatically; the governor increases general fund tax revenue by $1.4 billion, with another $1.5 billion for the sick tax and $1.7 billion in transportation taxes.
Thanks to all the folks who stopped by my office to discuss issues this week, from representatives of Lake Region Co-Op Electric, to wheat growers, the Farm Bureau, townships association members, resorters and beyond.
On a final note, I have written in the past about Bethel University’s BUILD program, which does a great job accommodating special-needs students who may otherwise not have had post-secondary opportunities. It has been gratifying to see students find success with the program and KSTP-TV ran a story on it this week and I hope it helps increase awareness regarding this program. Click here for the KSTP segment and click here for more about BUILD.