Hello from St. Paul,
Though we’re not holding in-person committee hearings, things are still moving quickly at the State Capitol. This week we learned that committee deadlines have been pushed forward a week, and bill introductions have been truncated. Our state’s budget for the next two year cycle must be completed by the end of session.
GOVERNOR WALZ BUDGET RELEASED
As you may have heard, Governor Walz has released his budget proposal for the 2021-2022 biennium. Minnesota is currently projected to face a $1.2 billion deficit according to the November forecast, but that number will be updated in late February.
Rather than growing spending in state government and increasing taxes, I felt the governor could have focused more on reducing wasteful government spending and streamlining government services in order to balance our budget.
Governor Walz wants to increase taxes by $1.7 billion. This includes a 10% income tax hike to Minnesota's top tax bracket and a 15% hike to Minnesota's business tax. This would make Minnesota the state with the 2nd highest business tax and the 3rd highest income tax rate in the country.
As for spending reductions in his more than $52 billion budget, Governor Walz has proposed $150 million in cuts, or .3%.
Minnesota also has more than $2 billion in state budget reserves to help with any projected budget deficit our state is facing.
The governor’s proposal is the first step in the budget setting process. From here the legislature will also submit plans, and we will hopefully find consensus on a plan in the weeks and months ahead.
This week, the Minnesota House health committee received a COVID-19 update.
There is some good news. The Minnesota Department of Health reports our state’s positivity rate has dropped to 4.3%, which is a level not seen since early July. The peak was 15.5% on November 10. MDH also estimates that 2.2% of Minnesotans have been vaccinated.
Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said he’d like federal officials to re-examine COVID-19 vaccine data and delay second doses so more people can take their first shot. Despite the vaccine moving forward, he thinks we’ll see another positive surge of cases this winter.
Have a good weekend,