The House has been busy discussing, debating and analyzing the majority’s omnibus bills put forward to fund the various sections of our state’s next two-year budget. Although some of the information may sound like hyperbole, it’s not. Here is just some of what is included in these bills:
Health and Human Services
The Health and Human Services Finance bill (H.F. 2414) increases health care costs, cuts funding to nursing homes and fails to prevent rampant fraud in Minnesota’s childcare and other public programs.
This bill includes an extension of the health care provider tax that will add $2.5 billion to the cost of Minnesotans’ health care over the next four years, and includes changes to nursing home reimbursement rates that result in $68 million in cuts to Minnesota nursing facilities.
Yes, you read that correctly: Democrats spent all fall promising to reduce health care costs and now they are trying to raise health care taxes by $2.5 billion. And they are looking to cut funding for nursing homes even though the state has a $1 billion surplus and refuse to sufficiently crack down on fraud in child care and beyond.
The bill also includes minimal changes to combat rampant fraud in public programs. Efforts to strengthen program integrity, prevent fraud, and increase penalties for fraudsters were blocked on the floor.
The tax bill (HF 2125) contains a number of new taxes that total more than $3 billion over the next four years, including regressive taxes that disproportionately impact middle- and lower-income Minnesotans.
The $3 billion in new taxes within this bill is part of a broader budget proposal by House Democrats that will raise taxes on Minnesotans by over $12 billion during the next four years including a 70% gas tax hike, billions in health care taxes, and over $2 billion in new taxes on Minnesotans paychecks to pay for their Paid Leave proposal.
According to a tax incidence study completed by the Department of Revenue, under the governor’s plan, Minnesotans making less than $45,000 per year would experience a double-digit percent increase in their tax burden and Minnesotans of every income level would see their taxes go up. In addition, the tax changes would make Minnesota's tax code more regressive by increasing the tax burden of low and middle-income Minnesotans significantly more than those with higher incomes.
The Education Finance bill (HF2400) relies on gas tax increases and shifts totaling more than $400 million from road and bridge funding to meet their unrealistic budget target. Despite the funding increase, the bill also increases the funding disparity between metro schools and schools in the rest of the state by 4 percent.
In addition, the bill includes controversial policy measures which erode bipartisan licensure reforms passed last session and enacts highly controversial sexual education requirements backed and drafted by Planned Parenthood. The sex ed. mandate features material some would call pornographic that could be presented to our children by unlicensed, uncertified advocates brought into our schools.
Jobs and Energy
The Jobs and Energy omnibus bill (HF 2208) is full of tax increases, fees and regulations that would increase energy costs, create a new tax on our paychecks and make life more expensive.
A recent Star Tribune article shows how the technology and cost challenges associated with the Democrats’ 100 percent renewable mandate in the bill are likely to result in increased energy costs and a less reliable energy grid.
The Democrats’ paid leave proposal in the bill includes an estimated $1.6 billion in new taxes and 400 new, full-time state employees. The program would be funded by a new payroll tax on employers and employees, regardless of whether good benefits already are in place.
While there are good provisions in each of these bills, I am fundamentally against these increases in taxes and spending and so are people I talk with in our district. This kind of growth is unsustainable.
The good news with all of these bills is there is enough time between now and the May 20 date for adjournment to make changes and come up with a budget plan worthy of broad, bipartisan support. I remain hopeful that happens.