We’ve had a big week at the Capitol with large finance bills moving off the House floor and others still to come. The House has passed: the Jobs and Housing Omnibus, Environment and Agriculture Omnibus, Public Safety and Judiciary Omnibus, State Government Finance & Veterans Affairs Omnibus, Health & Human Services Finance Omnibus, K-12 Education Omnibus, Higher Education Finance Omnibus and the Tax Omnibus Bills in their first versions.
Massive Tax Bill Will Impact All
Following a nearly nine hour debate on the Minnesota House floor, House Democrats approved a nearly $2.7 billion tax increase proposal that will impact every Minnesotan. All Republicans and several Democrats voted to oppose the measure, but it passed by a few votes. Their bill will result in a large portion of Minnesota filers receiving an income tax increase with income as low as $22,000. The House Democrat plan will also raise taxes on internet purchases, sports memorabilia, cigarettes, and alcohol, to name a few. This is the largest tax increase in the last three decades. Everyone will pay more for beer, cigarettes, rental cars, baseball cards and the list goes on and on. We can make government more efficient and more effective. We should give this recovery a chance and keep Minnesota on the path to a healthier economy.
Minnesota was recently ranked in the top seven states for most damaging taxes, even before this large increase goes into effect.
Nursing Homes and Seniors
On Monday, I joined dozens of my colleagues in standing up for rural Minnesota and funding for the care of our seniors and the developmentally disabled. We oppose the large HHS Omnibus Finance bill for its cuts to important services. This large bill could have made room for a fair increase to senior care providers, but instead cuts $26 million from nursing homes and senior living. While the Democrats are raising $3 billion in new taxes and fees, surely they could have found a way to fairly fund this critical part of the budget.
Supporting Higher Education
I supported the Omnibus Higher Education Finance bill yesterday on the House floor (SF1236). While there is still significant room for Minnesota's colleges and universities to improve their financial accountability and tuition transparency, I supported the bill which provides important funding to our campuses at SMSU in Marshall and MN West campuses in Canby and Granite Falls. After significant debate this session, key provisions were added to the Higher Education bill which will help monitor spending at our public institutions and keep costs for hardworking families in check. The issues of student debt and job placement are extremely important to me and I look forward to continuing my work on the House Higher Education Committee to implement more accountability measures in the future. I also offered an amendment to SF1236 on the floor of the House which would have required new reporting from MNSCU and the University of Minnesota on graduation rate and employment rate improvements.
We’ve had the opportunity on several votes this week to defend the sanctity of life, including on the $11 billion Health and Human Services (HHS) Omnibus Finance bill this Monday. I supported a bipartisan amendment requiring abortion facilities to be licensed and inspected annually, as well as an amendment prohibiting abortions from being covered under essential benefits packages sold on the new Health Insurance Exchange. I also supported an amendment stating insurance companies can’t be required to provide abortion coverage in their policies sold on the Exchange.
On the federal level, President Obama continues to pledge his absolute allegiance to Planned Parenthood and vows to fight state efforts to protect life.
Have a great weekend,
State Representative, District 16A