Greetings as we make our way toward a weekend of Mother’s Day and the 2020 fishing opener. These celebrations certainly are taking place under unusual circumstances this year and I hope you are able to enjoy them in different ways.
The big legislative news to report is a much darker economic outlook for our state. Minnesota Management and Budget on Tuesday released an interim budget projection showing the state faces a nearly $2.43 billion deficit for the remainder of the current biennium, which ends June 30, 2021. It’s the first time the number is in the red since the Great Recession.
The new number represents a nearly $4 billon change from what was projected just a couple of months ago. The full forecast released in February projected a $1.5 billion budget surplus. Because the next forecast is not scheduled until November, this projection has limited updated estimates of expected revenues and expenses. It also reflects appropriations enacted this session.
These numbers show the state is suffering financial difficulties right along with families and businesses throughout Minnesota. It also shows that our governor’s shutdown of businesses and workers is coming right back to bite the state in terms of reduced tax revenue. When people are unable to work, they do not pay taxes.
We need to get our economy re-opened and, the longer the governor keeps workers locked out, the worse things are going to get. I hear from people every day who say the governor is ripping away their livelihood and are disgusted that one person’s unilateral decisions can have such a bearing on their business, their job and even their family life.
Even decisions the governor is making that could be considered good news are causing questions to be raised. For example, this week he issued Executive Order 20-51, which allows hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics – whether veterinary, medical, or dental – to resume many currently delayed procedures. These expanded services may occur once facilities have developed criteria for determining which procedures should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic and have provided a plan to maintain a safe environment for facility staff, patients, and visitors.
That’s a small step forward, but why did he issue a new executive order to accomplish this instead of canceling his order to put these restrictions in place? This governing by decree is getting old and now he is piling executive orders on top of executive orders.
House Republicans continue working to restore the Legislature as the co-equal branch of government that it is so we can work with the governor to find the best path forward. But, as long as the House majority keeps blocking our efforts to do so, the governor will continue dictating to Minnesotans through executive orders.
Look for more as things develop in St. Paul. The House is scheduled to adjourn May 18, so a lot could happen between now and then.
On a quick side note, I would like to mention that self-employed should have a copy of their Schedule C of their 1040 ready as they apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
We’ve had self-employed constituents apply for PUA and receive a rejection letter on the basis of not having enough earnings in their base period. One of these constituents reports UI advised them the best way for self-employed people to demonstrate earnings is to send a copy of a Schedule C for 2019 to Minnesota Unemployment, so keep that in mind if you are filing.
Happy Mother’s Day and good luck with the opener.