It will be impossible to stop this train. The House Democrats are seeking to raise taxes and fees by some $3 billion in order to pay for government spending. Our projected shortfall is $627 million and shrinking with each economic report. Here is a look at some of the bills we had on the floor this week:
ALL TAXES, NO REFORMS
The Tax Bill which was passed out of the House on Tuesday on a straight party-line vote is bad, really bad! Bottom-line, we're taxing success and subsidizing dependency – and that's a long-term plan for decline. Why is that bad? The old axiom is true – you get less of what you tax (people who are hard-working job creators), while getting more of what you subsidize (people who are dependent on government assistance or benefits).
The numbers are telling: between 1995-2010, according to several studies (www.howmoneywalks.com is one of those studies), Minnesota lost $4 Billion in working wealth to other states, principally Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona. Those are dollars that are no longer growing jobs or filling state revenue coffers. This tax bill only makes Minnesota's notoriety as a high tax state only worse! The Democrats are raising $1 billion in new income taxes on a tiny fraction of the population. Balancing the state budget on a narrow group of citizens is bad tax policy! What's more, this increases the roller-coaster volatility of our tax code, completely contrary to what Gov. Dayton said he was going to do.
Here are a few of the bad things in the Tax Bill:
Here is a brief video clip from the House floor as I spoke about the economic disadvantages this historic tax increase would bring to Minnesota.
K-12 BUDGET PASSES HOUSE
The House on Tuesday passed the largest portion of the state budget, which funds K-12 education for the next two years. The spending total is $15.7 billion, a two-year increase of $227 million over the current level, with $209 more per pupil by the end of the next biennium. Too much of the money in this bill is spent padding the education bureaucracy and adding new programs, new mandates and new costs instead of money going to the classroom
HHS BUDGET FAILS SENIORS
The House 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. This would be greatly damaging to nursing homes throughout the state and it disappoints me this area would be cut by Democrats, especially since they plan to have $3 billion more in taxes/fees. 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.
The House on Wednesday passed an omnibus transportation finance package that proposes to spend nearly $2 billion on road and bridge construction across the state.
Republicans agree that funding critical infrastructure projects benefit the economy and the lives of Minnesotans. However, we believe that hardworking taxpayer dollars should not go towards wasteful spending projects. To that point, I offered an amendment to cease the Northern Lights Express, which is basically a plan for a casino train from the Twin Cities to Duluth. Democrats struck down my amendment, choosing to waste taxpayer money by subsidizing a casino.
FAMILY REFORMATION BILL
We have seen bipartisan support on a number of bills. An excellent bill, the Family Reunification Act, creates a process to reunite a parent with a child after the legal rights of parenthood have been severed by the courts. Some parents make mistakes and errors that lead to termination of rights, but currently, there is no process to allow for reestablishing those rights. This bill provides that, along with motivation toward rehabilitation.
I will keep you posted as things develop at the Capitol. As always, I welcome your input on these and other issues.