This has been Budget Bill Week at the Capitol. We have spent many hours on the floor discussing various bills authored by the Democrat majority that would comprise our state’s spending – and taxing – for the next two years.
Here is a sampling of what has transpired:
HIGHER EDUCATION BILL PASSES
I am the minority lead on the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee. The bill to fund this part of our state budget came to the House floor and passed this week. Two things I continue to advocate – tuition relief and accountability in spending – were part of the bill. Undergraduate tuition at our state universities and colleges will be frozen for the next two years. Also, institutions will be required to provide in-depth financial statements if they seek additional funding so the Legislature can track how their current funding is being used.
HISTORIC TAX INCREASES
Following a nearly nine-hour debate on the Minnesota House floor, House Democrats approved a $2.6 billion tax increase proposal that will impact every Minnesotan. All Republicans voted to oppose the measure. Their bill will result in a large portion of Minnesota filers receiving an income tax increase with income as low as $22,000. The House Democrat plan also would raise taxes on Internet purchases, sports memorabilia, cigarettes, and alcohol, to name a few.
This would be the largest tax increase in the last three decades. They also are proposing hundreds of millions more in fees, bringing the total price tag to some $3 billion.
This proposed increase is so big it is hard to comprehend. Estimates show this would cost $550 per person in Minnesota. It really concerns me what the impact will be if we take this amount of money out of the economy and give it to government. Our economy is growing and recovering from the Great Recession, but this could deal us a significant setback.
It also concerns me Democrats say part of the reason they are raising taxes on tobacco and alcohol is to discourage usage. What happens if that is indeed the case and behavior is steered? What are the long-term affects? We could find ourselves in big trouble down the road if we increase state spending based and tie ourselves to sources of revenue in decline.
Democrats said they were going to “tax the rich” but the simple fact is this: They are raising income taxes on Minnesotans in every tax bracket. Everyone will pay more for beer, cigarettes, rental cars, baseball cards and the list goes on and on.
We can make government more efficient and more effective. We should give this recovery a chance and keep Minnesota on the path to a healthier economy.
NURSING HOMES COULD SUFFER
The House also passed a Health and Human Services budget bill on Monday. It totals $11.2 billion over the next two years and is the second-largest portion of the state budget, behind K-12 education. The proposal cuts $150 million from the current forecasted budget. There is a $26 million net reduction in baseline funding for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Higher costs would result from a hospital surcharge passed onto patients. Counties may have to raise property taxes to cover for unfunded mandates such as technology upgrades.
Click here for a news release I sent to area media his week with more information about this.