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Legislative Update (2-21-19)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Friends,

Gov. Tim Walz released his budget proposal for the 2020-21 biennium on Tuesday and his plan is just further proof that Democrats never seem to have enough of other people’s money to spend.

Through his plan, the governor proposes $3 billion in tax increases over the next two years alone, and $4.7 billion in tax increases for 2022-23. He would take our state budget to nearly $50 billion for the upcoming biennium, a dramatic rise from the $45.5 billion our state is spending this two-year cycle. If you ask me, $45.5 billion already is too much.

Maybe the most objectionable tax increase the governor is proposing is the one which would raise Minnesota’s gas tax by 20 cents a 70-percent increase. This would take Minnesota’s gas tax from 28th in the nation all the way up to the fourth-highest tax.

The state has enough tax revenue to improve roads and bridges without tax increases as long as we don’t waste it. We need to make roads and bridges the budget priority most of us agree it is, but the governor apparently is unwilling to do so without raising taxes that will disproportionately hurt lower-income people and residents of Greater Minnesota in general. Raising taxes not only will hurt us at the pump, but will also increase the price of goods and services that face increased transportation costs.

We are seeing good things in our economy, largely because of lower gas prices. If gas prices increase, we have learned over history that our economy becomes stifled. And, again, lower earners and people in Greater Minnesota feel the impacts the most.

The governor’s plan also includes increases to tab fees, the motor vehicle sales tax, the metro area sales tax, business taxes, and reinstatement of the sick tax, which is set to expire at the end of the year, adding $1 billion to the cost of health care for Minnesotans over the next two years.

All this at a time the state has a surplus. Between throwing Line 3 back in court and proposing huge tax increases, this is a bad start for the Walz administration and he is creating a deeper divide between rural Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

On a different topic, I am awaiting a hearing on H.F. 53, a bill I have authored to provide more legislative oversite regarding the rulemaking process of state agencies. The gist of it is that, when the Legislature creates new laws, agencies write rules in order to implement statutes as required. Now, agencies are able to go back and reference laws passed a number of years ago to make rules for citizens to follow.

This certainly is out of line with the spirit of the process and opens the door to any number of issues that could come with creative rulemaking or government overreach. My bill would help prevent that from happening and I look forward to presenting it in committee hearings.

-Steve

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