If you provide a job to someone in our area, prepare to see your taxes jump by 15% or more.
Minnesota needs to replenish its current deficit in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund by more than $1 billion. We have $9.3 billion in available state surplus funds that could be used for this purpose, as could federal COVID relief funding that totals more than $1 billion. If neither of these pots of money are utilized, the default repayment (funded by employers) is tax increases on local business owners by 15% or more.
Last month, Governor Walz’s employment commissioner said March 15 was the deadline for the lawmakers to pass legislation and prevent significant tax increases on Minnesota businesses. Since then, the Minnesota Senate approved a full UI repayment bill on an overwhelming 55-11 bipartisan vote three weeks ago, while House Democrat leadership has done nothing.
Prior to the deadline, House Republicans attempted to declare an urgency to debate legislation that would prevent this tax increase from taking effect. The move was blocked by the House Democrat majority. In fact, the House majority leader basically stated this issue would be linked with the entire 2022 House Democrat legislative agenda, so it is being used as part of an elaborate political game being played by House Democrats.
The sad reality is local employers will now see their taxes rise. While every other legislative caucus, as well as the Governor’s Office, wanted resolution, House Democrats wanted to keep the issue alive so it could be used as a bargaining chip.
PRIORITIZING PUBLIC SAFETY
While too many lawmakers have been talking about ‘defunding the police,’ a good number of us recognize the importance of law enforcement and the job they do in keep us safe.
Not long ago, House Republicans unveiled our public safety agenda, highlighting a series of initiatives that focus on crime prevention and accountability for criminals; police recruitment and retention and holding the criminal justice system accountable.
Most people I talk with understand that in order to decrease crime, you need to keep repeat criminals behind bars, have more men and women joining the profession, and give law enforcement the tools they need to succeed. Making law enforcement the enemy is not, and never will be part of the solution.
SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL AUDIT PASSES
On a strong bipartisan basis, the Minnesota House has approved legislation that I co-authored that would audit the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) program. This project, once estimated to cost just under $1 billion, has now escalated to more than $2.75 billion and its opening date has been pushed back another 3 years. We also attempted to freeze spending on the project while the audit is conducted, but House Democrats did not agree to that.
Because of this troubling news, I have authored a number of bills that would cut back on Minnesota planning projects of this sort until we can determine why the mismanagement of SWLRT occurred. Don’t forget, the Met Council oversees this project. It is an unelected, appointed board with no accountability to the taxpayers whatsoever, and every dollar of Southwest Light Rail construction is coming from the taxpayers.
Its clear funding of this boondoggle needs to end – and soon.