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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Bait-and-Switch for the Middle Class

Friday, May 8, 2015


We’ve got about 10 days to hammer out a budget at the State Capitol.  House Republicans passed their budget bills so late – weeks later than usual – that we’ve only now started to negotiate and hopefully reach a compromise.  I find it remarkable that it took them so long to pass a budget that’s so partisan.

But their budget is a Bait-and-Switch on the middle class in Minnesota.

Bait-and-Switch Tax bill

Last week, House Republicans finally passed the centerpiece of their plan for the state: a $2 billion tax reduction package which sounds enormous – because it is.  That would be around $370 for every man, woman, and child in Minnesota.  But instead, the average household in Minnesota would only see their state taxes go down by $130.  The average single filer would get about $50 to $70 – a little more than a dollar a week – a dollar a week.

So where is all that extra money in the Tax Bill going?  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the vast majority of the money in the House Republicans’ Tax bill goes to corporations and the wealthy.  Here’s the best part, tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy?  Permanent.  But tax cuts for the middle class?  Temporary.

Under their plan, over the next four years, for every $1 of tax relief for average Minnesotans, $29 would go to corporations and wealthy estates.  Estates wouldn’t pay any taxes until they reached $5 million in worth.  They lower statewide business property taxes in a way that balloons into a state budget deficit in the future.

Bait-and-Switch Budget

But the bait and switch doesn’t stop at the tax giveaways.  To pay for all these special interest tax cuts, House Republicans passed an Early Learning and K-12 that puts so little new money into our schools that they’ll have to lay off teachers as inflation eats into their budgets.  They passed a Higher Education bill that has new money for MnSCU, but they didn’t mention the fact that tuition will be going up under their plan.  They passed a Health and Human Services Bill that kicks almost 100,000 people off MinnesotaCare and relies on shifts, gimmicks, and phony accounting to help pay for the tax bill.

They’re not using the surplus to pay for tax cuts, they’re taking that money from schools and the most vulnerable.

Bait-and-Switch Roads Package

As I’ve mentioned before, the House Republican Road package is a sham. 

First, it’s not a Transportation Package at all – it mainly takes resources from the Metro to build a few more highways, roads, and bridges.  A few road projects in the Metro won’t help everyone if we put bus riders back into cars

Second, borrowing from students and seniors is no way to pay for roads.  If we take money out of the General Fund (usually meant for schools, not roads) and then borrow billions on the state credit card, we’ve taken money away from our kids’ education and then we’re making them pay for the debt when they get older.

The honest way to pay for roads is with user fees for people who use roads.

Honest Budget

We deserve an honest budget, and I hope we get one in the next 10 days.  With a $2 billion surplus we shouldn’t have to use shifts and gimmicks.  Republicans need to show us they can govern without forcing our state into another crisis.

As always I remain accessible and want to hear from you.  Feel free to contact me at 651-296-3751, or


Thank you for giving me the honor of serving you and our community,