Greetings from the Capitol as we near the end of another busy week at the Capitol. Here is a look at a couple of recent news items:
House Democrats cause tax increase
House Democrats are raising taxes on Minnesotans at a time the state has a surplus of nearly $10 billion and people already are facing massive price increases.
This is happening because House Democrats blocked efforts by House Republicans to vote on bipartisan Senate legislation to replenish the state’s unemployment insurance funds that were depleted during the pandemic. The federal government provided funding to the state to keep the program afloat and now that debt of more than $1 billion is due.
Gov. Tim Walz, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and most Senate Democrats support passing a clean bill to fully replenish the UI funds. The Senate one month ago approved by a veto-proof majority legislation to do so.
But House Democrats continued to withhold that bill through the March 15 deadline. Their own UI bill, which the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development testified would result in six years of tax increases on businesses, has been stagnant since early February.
House Republicans made a move to declare urgency on the matter Monday to take up the Senate bill for a vote but, for the second time in the past week, House Democrats blocked the effort.
Now, a tax increase is set to take place to pay the state’s federal debt despite the fact Minnesota has a surplus of around $10 billion. This is another case of House Democrats putting partisan politics ahead of doing what’s right for Minnesotans.
Seeing through the majority’s smokescreen
The majority is trying to play this off like it’s no big deal, which is completely out of touch with reality. One recent article quotes Greater Minnesota employers saying they face tax increases in the tens of thousands of dollars next year. In one reported case, a 130% increase translates to a $21,000 spike.
Minnesotans – all Minnesotans – are going to end up suffering because of the House Democrats’ failure on this issue. But the people understand what’s happening here and that House Democrats bear sole responsibility for causing a completely unnecessary tax increase.
Bill to aid Granite Falls
A bill I’ve authored for repairing the Granite Falls hydroelectric generator received a positive response in a House committee this week and remains in the mix this session. This bill (HF 3921) provides $2.9 million from the Renewable Development Account for a grant to the city of Granite Falls for repair and overage costs related to the city’s existing hydroelectric generating facility. The city indicates $1.8 million of this request is for critical infrastructure repairs, and $490,000 represents gap financing for increased costs due to COVID-19 impacts that increased labor and materials costs. Repairs funded by the money in this bill will help Granite Falls continue to supply its customers with a renewable, carbon-free energy resource.
Have a good weekend and look for more from the Capitol soon.