Here are some of the things happening at the Capitol this week.
First, I want to thank the people who have already filled out my survey. If you have not yet had a chance to, I would love for you to share your opinions with me. I do my best to represent you in St. Paul, and would appreciate your input.
You can take my legislative survey here.
Omnibus Spending Bill Passes House
On Thursday, the House passed a massive supplemental spending bill that grows government at the cost of Minnesota taxpayers.
House File 3172 increases base funding for a number of agencies, spends an additional $323 million this biennium and bails out Obamacare at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars through shifts and gimmicks.
Last year, Democrats in the legislature dramatically expanded Medicaid and Minnesota Care expecting federal Obamacare dollars to supplement those programs. Those federal dollars never came in, and as a result of their gross underestimate, Minnesota taxpayers are now on the hook.
The bill shifts money from the General Fund to pay for the shortfall in the Healthcare Access Fund (HCAF) in 2016-17 to the tune of $406 million. Starting in 2018, this bill moves Minnesota Care to the forecasted budget meaning any continuing funding gaps are covered by the General Fund, removing any incentive to control cost or limit access down the road.
This is reckless policy. It’s a shift, a gimmick and irresponsible government policy. The cost of this bill starting in fiscal year 2016-17 is nearly $900 million and could cost even more after that.
Of course, it’s likely that this Healthcare Access Fund shift could not pass on its own, so they buried the provision in this 500 page bill and hid it behind several bipartisan initiatives. Also in HF 3172 is funding for the 5% Campaign, money for pothole repair, increased penalties for sex offenders and an increase in K12 per pupil funding.
Republicans offered an amendment that included these positive provisions while eliminating a number of the other wasteful projects and Obamacare bailout. Unfortunately, that amendment was rejected.
After raising taxes by over $2 billion last year and increasing government spending in Minnesota by $1500 for every man, woman and child, it seems that Democrats want to grow our government even more. How much spending will satisfy them?
Minnesota families live within their means, and it’s time for Minnesota government to do the same.
Supplemental Tax Bill Includes Agriculture Relief
Also this week, the House passed another tax bill on Friday that fixes more of last years’ mistakes and oversights.
One important provision in the bill is the increase to the Agricultural Homestead Market Value property tax credit for ag homestead properties. This is great news for farmers in our area.
The credit is good for .3 percent of the first $115,000 in property value, with subtractions of .05 percent on the value over that amount. This bill changes the maximum refund, allowing property owners to increase their credit up to $500.
Farmers do so much for our local economy, and I am glad that this provision was included in the tax bill.
It is an honor to represent you in St. Paul. I will continue to work on your behalf at the Capitol.