I hope you had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. It was great to be back in the district last week to enjoy some downtime following a very busy and eventful last few days of session.
In short, everyone will pay more under the Democrats new budget, which will be the largest in state history. They are extracting $2 billion dollars in new taxes from the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota in order to close a $627 million dollar budget gap, and funneling more money into government without asking for a single significant reform.
The Democrat budget cuts in half the projected $800 million dollar surplus the state of Minnesota was set to have in 2016-2017, and relies on growth from the GOP budget passed in 2011 to pay back the remainder of the school shift because they broke their campaign promise to pay back the school shift. Despite making paying back the school shift House File 1, and claiming it was their "top priority," Democrats were somehow unable to find the funds to pay it back despite billions in new taxes.
Here are some additional details on some of the most significant bills we passed in the closing weekend:
Democrats were swept into the majority on a platform of 'taxing the rich,' and making sure that the rich were paying their 'fair share.' That's what makes this budget even more disappointing; Minnesotans did not vote for Democrats thinking they were going to balance the state budget on the backs of low and middle-income taxpayers. Unfortunately, that's exactly what this budget does.
In addition to new taxes on the rich (sadly one of the only promises kept by Democrats this session), Minnesotans will now pay more for cigarettes thanks to a massive new cigarette tax that disproportionately impacts low-income families, childcare thanks to an unwanted and unnecessary effort to unionize childcare providers that would bring added costs that will be passed to parents, and utility bills thanks to an energy mandate that forces companies to invest in more expensive and less reliable energy technologies. The cigarette tax is the most outrageous because part of the new higher tax will go toward subsidizing the Vikings stadium for a New Jersey billionaire.
New warehouse and storage taxes will mean higher prices for necessities like gas and groceries. Those taxes will hit particularly hard on folks in the agriculture industry at a time when prices are already on the rise.
You can see my speech on the Democrats tax-everyone tax bill by clicking here.
We had a robust and lengthy debate on the K-12 Education bill, the largest portion of the state budget for the 2014-2015 biennium. I have a number of concerns about the education, primarily about the negative tails totaling nearly $800 million dollars for the 2016-2017 biennium. That means there is $800 million dollars in increased spending that is totally unaccounted for in the following biennium.
Think of it like a family that budgets a small amount for a new car or vacation, but doesn't budget money for the following year to pay it off. This kind of budgeting is hardly "responsible" as Democrats are claiming.
In addition, there are tens of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates that will impact budgets of school districts that are already stretched thin, as well as the elimination of grad standard testing that effectively dumbs down diplomas for graduating students.
You can see part of the exchange from the K-12 debate, as well as my speech in the bill as a whole by clicking here.
The Energy Omnibus bill, which was combined with the Jobs, Commerce, and Economic Development Omnibus bill in order to garner sufficient support to pass, is one of the most damaging bills we passed this legislative session. It was so damaging, Democrats had to carve out special exceptions for the Iron Range in order to convince enough Democrats to pass the bill. If a bill is so bad that it requires exempting portions of the state, perhaps it's a sign that the rest of Minnesota should be exempted as well.
The costly mandates in the bill will require some energy providers to invest in more expensive, less reliable energy technologies that will result in higher costs for ratepayers. This is another example of Democrats passing bad policy to appease far-left special interests that helped get them elected. You can see my speech on the bill by clicking here.
It was an easy decision to vote against all of these bills. I simply couldn't support any bill that asks the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota, particularly low and middle-income taxpayers to pay more when there's so much waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars included in the budget.
I will continue to send occasional updates throughout the summer during the interim. We gavel back in for the 2014 session on February 25th, 2014.
Have a great week,