Before we get to legislative news, I wish you and yours a blessed Easter/Passover season. Please be careful on the roads if your plans involve traveling to be with friends and family.
As for the latest from the Capitol, Minnesota is in good shape right now and, in fact, Gov. Tim Walz said “the state of our state is strong” during his recent State of the State address.
Why then, would the governor and House Democrats be looking for billions more in tax increases to fund billions more in state spending? From an increase of 20 cents per gallon on gasoline, to bringing back a tax on health care, it seems just about everything would be more expensive through the House Democrats’ plan to raise our taxes by more than $12 billion over the next four years.
The Democrats’ transportation plan alone raises taxes by $3.9 billion over the next four years. This includes their 20-cent gas tax increase, more expensive license tabs, and other fees. Their proposal also would raise metro sales tax, taking more money from working families to pay for transit. This will do nothing to noticeably improve congestion or make our roads safer.
This is in stark contrast to state budgets House Republicans led to enactment the last two budget cycles, fully funding our priorities while also respecting the taxpayer. One of the top House Republican achievements of the last biennium was providing an immediate influx of transportation funding by directing sales taxes already paid when purchasing auto parts toward roads and bridges.
Disappointingly, Democrats are looking to abandon that plan and take those dollars away from our roads and bridges. That means the first seven cents of their gas-tax increase would not even provide more for roads and bridges, just make up for the $460 million they are raiding from transportation to spend elsewhere.
The transportation proposal and other omnibus bills that will end up shaping our state’s next budget are scheduled to begin coming to the House floor for votes after an Easter/Passover break, setting the stage for final negotiations as our May 20 date for adjournment approaches.
As we enter that period, it is concerning to see a lack of priorities on the part of the House majority. Democrats are looking to raise the gas tax by 70 percent, a move that would hurt low-income people and residents of Greater Minnesota the hardest. They say they want to reduce health care costs, yet propose raising taxes on health care by $2.6 billion over the next four years and propose cutting nursing home funding by more than $68 million during the next biennium.
Here are some specifics of the tax increases Democrats propose, totaling more than $12 billion over the next four years:
All these House Democrat proposals are being issued at a time when there is a $1 billion state budget surplus and they refuse to get serious about cracking down on hundreds of millions in fraud across our public programs.
Minnesota taxpayers deserve responsible stewardship of their tax dollars. As legislators, it is our responsibility to see that we maximize the efficiency of this money and exhibit fiscal restraint. Sadly, it appears as though those ideals have gone out the window with the arrival of new Democrats in the House and the governor’s office.
While it is disappointing to have to report the news of all the tax increases proposed by the House majority, I’ve always believed in fiscal responsibility and owe it to the taxpayers to relay this message.
Although our state isn’t perfect – and no agency or program is – we still are in good shape and I do agree with the governor on that point.