Thanks to groups that recently met with me in St. Paul to discuss issues related to disabilities (above) and insurance (below).
The House has been discussing budget bills this week as the House majority brings forward its omnibus bills to set the state’s next two-year budget. There are significant problems with each of these proposals and I voted against them. Here is more:
Health and Human Services
The health and human services omnibus bill raises health care costs, cuts funding for nursing homes and allows rampant fraud to continue in child care and other public programs.
Despite promises to reduce health care costs, the Democrats’ tax on health care would add an estimated $2.5 billion to the cost of our health care over the next four years. Meantime, they would cut nursing home rates by $68 million.
The bill’s failure to address child care fraud is highly concerning. Democrats have refused to hold hearings on the non-partisan reports prepared by our Legislative Auditor which confirmed widespread fraud exists. They also have refused to take seriously Republican proposals to combat this problem.
The tax bill 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.
House Democrats approved (despite bipartisan opposition) a Jobs and Energy omnibus bill which is loaded with tax increases, fees and regulations that would increase energy costs, create a new tax on Minnesotans’ paychecks and make life more expensive in our state.
This bill would raise energy costs and make Minnesota’s energy grid less reliable. The Star Tribune highlighted just this past week the technology and cost challenges associated with the Democrats’ 100 percent renewable mandate that would likely result in increased costs and a less reliable energy grid.
The Democrats’ paid leave measure in the bill includes an estimated $1.6 billion in new taxes and 400 new, full-time state employees. The proposal would be funded by a new payroll tax on employers and employees, regardless of whether good benefits already are in place.
Logistical horrors could result from establishing a new IT system for the program. This massive new system has technology disaster written all over it – and we still don’t know what it will cost to build or have any guarantees when it will be finished. Rather than putting new taxes on Minnesotans’ paychecks, let’s work to incentivize employers to provide benefits.
Another very controversial provision allows government to seize an estimated $13 million in unclaimed property from Minnesotans. Stealing money from Minnesotans to fund this spending spree is unconscionable, especially when elderly Minnesotans will be most vulnerable to having their property taken by state government.
The K-12 bill 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 policy measures related to controversial sexual education mandates and programming backed and drafted by Planned Parenthood. Material found objectionable by many could be presented to our children by unlicensed, uncertified activists brought into our schools to teach sex ed.
Look for more news as we make our way through remaining omnibus finance bills. Transportation (and the 20-cent per gallon gas tax increase) is among those on their way to the floor.