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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Recently, Minnesota's state economists projected that our state would have a $900 million budget surplus to allocate before the 2016 legislative session ends. Because of this, Governor Dayton recently released a supplemental budget proposal outlining what he'd like to do with this money.

In short, his answer is: spend it.

As part of the governor's vision, he would spend nearly $600 million, leave $200 million on the bottom line, and provide a pittance of $100 million in tax relief to the Minnesotans who had the $900 million needlessly extracted from them in the first place.

Some ways in which the governor believes your tax dollars need to be spent include $500,000 to study the benefits of a single-payer health system. Then there's the proposal that continues the governor's preference to back the school bus up to the maternity room door by spending $25 million on "voluntary" pre-Kindergarten. Of course, there is no money in the governor's budget to offset the financial mandates associated with pre-K – such as acquiring classroom space – which would ultimately, once again, increase property taxes. Finally, we have $100 million to ‘expand economic opportunities and eliminate disparities for Minnesotans of color’ across our state.

Folks, I've said it before and I'll say it again: state government is fully funded and will be fully funded through June 30, 2017. We are spending more on state government now than we ever have before. Our budget reserve sits at roughly $2 billion, which is the largest in our state's history.

Government has enough of your money.

But Governor Dayton does not share this belief. Buried in the bowels of this budget is his continued insistence of a gas tax increase. Despite declaring it dead a few months ago, Governor Dayton continues to promote a plan that will raise the price of a gallon of gas by a minimum of 16 cents per-gallon, disguised by charging it at the wholesale level. This results in a $900 million tax increase at a time when we already have a $900 million surplus.

You know, if you want to increase taxes on the poorest Minnesotans who can least afford to have them raised, you should at least be up front about it.

Last session, the Minnesota House approved a long-term funding proposal that would dedicate $7 billion to our future road and bridge needs without raising taxes. Again, government already has enough of your money, so there is no need to raise anyone's taxes.

It's worth remembering the governor's proposal is nothing more than a suggested road map. But it's my hope that we will greatly improve on his vision of providing roughly $100 million in tax relief out of a $900 million surplus this session. After all, it's your money - not the government's.

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