By Rep. Joe McDonald
Our top responsibility at the Capitol this year is to set a new two-year state budget and people in District 29A have made it clear they favor a responsible approach.
I agree. There is a $1.4 billion state budget surplus. There is no need to raise taxes on already overcharged citizens. State spending has more than doubled in two decades. That kind of growth is unsustainable.
Still, Gov. Mark Dayton is proposing a $45.8 billion budget for 2018-19, roughly a 10 percent increase over the current level. Despite that $1.4 billion state surplus, the governor is proposing just $188 million in tax relief for the next biennium.
Not only that, but he is proposing a billion dollar tax increase on trips to the doctor by extending the provider tax, and more than $1.5 billion in new taxes and fees in the next biennium alone by increasing the gas tax, tab fees, the Metro area sales tax, new license/title surcharges – including for hunting and fishing – and more.
Fortunately, people I talk with in our district are wise to the fact those increases in taxes and spending are both unnecessary and irresponsible. We already have the resources to provide ample funding for priorities such as tax relief, health care, veterans, education and roads and bridges. The key is to keep our focus on what is important.
House Republicans will be unveiling our own budget proposal as the session progresses. An updated state budget and economic forecast is set for release in the coming weeks, which will give us the firm framework of numbers necessary for establish a formal plan. Expect it to include meaningful tax relief and a responsibly sized state budget that respects hardworking Minnesota taxpayers.
The $21.7 million in immediate tax relief for Minnesotans that was enacted right out of the gate this session is only the start of what House Republicans will propose. Remember, just last year we passed more than half a billion dollars in permanent reductions to aid Minnesotans far and wide. The governor vetoed that package even though it was the most bipartisan tax bill in 30 years with support from nearly 90 percent of the Legislature.
On a separate tax note, there is progress to report on a bill I have authored to allow non-profit organizations to keep more of the proceeds they generate during city celebrations. Non-profits currently have a five-day window in which they are not liable for sales taxes generated during local events. My bill would expand that window to 25 days, allowing more of those dollars from sales to stay local so they can be used for supporting families in need, youth sports and many other civic causes.
This bill was well-received on both sides of the aisle during its initial hearing and remains in the mix to be included in a comprehensive tax package later this session.