This week has been a parade of bad bills House Democrats have authored to create our state’s next two-year state budget. Democrats led each of them to approval despite major concerns expressed by House Republicans. I voted against all of these bills and here’s an overview of some of the more problematic proposals:
The Democrats’ 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.
In order to fund all of their new programs, the bill slashes nursing home rates by $68 million while raising taxes on health care. The tax on health care would add an estimated $2.5 billion to the cost of our health care over the next four years.
There are so many bad parts of this bill it’s hard to know where to begin unraveling this mess. You don’t reduce health care costs by raising taxes on health care and it’s an absolute shame Democrats are looking to cut funding for nursing homes at a time the state has a $1 billion surplus.
The Democrats’ failure to address child care fraud is unacceptable. They 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.
This bill widens the unfair funding gap between rural and metro school districts, increasing the funding disparity between metro schools and schools in the rest of the state by 4 percent. It also shifts more than $400 million from road and bridge funding to help raises spending by $900 million the next two years.
In addition, the bill includes controversial policy measures such as enacting sexual education requirements backed and drafted by Planned Parenthood. While there are endless bad provisions in the bill, the sex ed mandate is truly outrageous. It contradicts current law that emphasizes abstinence and lets Planned Parenthood write the sexual health curriculum, which can best be described as pornographic material. This objectionable material could be presented to our children by unlicensed, uncertified activists brought into our schools to teach sex ed.
House Republicans offered amendments to remove this section of the bill or even allow schools to opt out of sexual health curriculum mandate. House Democrats blocked both of those efforts.
This bill of the Democrats’ imposes billions of dollars in new taxes on paychecks and includes extreme energy mandates that will drive up our electric bills while reducing the reliability of our energy grid.
The Star Tribune highlighted just this past week the technology and cost challenges associated with the Democrats’ 100 percent renewable mandate likely would result in increased costs and a less reliable energy grid.
The Democrats’ paid leave proposal 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.
Here’s the kicker: Another provision in the bill allows government to seize an estimated $13 million in unclaimed property from Minnesotans, with the elderly most vulnerable to what amounts to unconscionable government theft.
On a side note: The Greater Minnesota Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division that should have been a major contributor to this bill has proved to be a farce. Democrat leadership provided this committee with such limited jurisdiction that it had no meaningful work to do. In fact, the committee's omnibus bill was one paragraph long. The committee made no effort to dig into challenges facing Greater Minnesota and develop strategies for good-paying jobs in rural communities.
Transportation and beyond
We may be taking up the Democrats’ transportation bill yet today, including their proposal to raise the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon (which I strongly oppose). Then more omnibus finance bills will be coming to the House floor next week … including a public safety package that includes two highly controversial and ill-advised gun-control proposals, H.F. 8 (background checks) and H.F. 9 (red flags). I will continue opposing those proposals and you can click here for summaries of each.