It has been a busy week in St. Paul as we’ve spent most of our time on the floor of the House debating and voting on large omnibus finance bills. Here is a brief summary of some of the bills that were passed this week.
On Tuesday evening, the House passed the 2019 education omnibus bill. Education spending is the largest portion of the state budget and has been steadily growing for years.
This year’s bill seeks to spend an additional $900 million over the next two years with most of that funding coming from a 70% gas tax increase and shifts totaling more than $400 million from road and bridge funding to meet such a high budget target. Sadly, despite the incredibly large funding increase, the bill also grows the funding disparity between Metro and Greater Minnesota schools by 4 percent.
In addition to problems with the amount of spending, funding mechanism, and disparities between metro and rural schools, the bill also contains a number of controversial policy provisions.
Most egregious are provisions that include sex education curriculum backed and drafted by Planned Parenthood and the removal of automatic denial and revocation requirements for teachers convicted of fifth-degree domestic assault.
Democrats also rejected an amendment to include stays of adjudication in education-related background studies, aimed at closing a dangerous loophole that previously allowed sex offenders to drive a school bus.
I offered an amendment on the floor that would make the Perpich Center for the Arts in Golden Valley a satellite campus for the Minnesota Academies of the Deaf and Blind. The Perpich School has been riddled by problems with accountability from their finances and enrollment has fallen dramatically in recent years. This is a commonsense proposal that would give deaf and blind students in the Twin Cities the option of attending classes in Golden Valley instead of having to make the trip to Faribault.
Sadly, the DFL voted down the amendment and it was not added to the bill.
The education bill completely misses the mark and I voted against its passage.
Wednesday saw the passage of the Jobs and Energy omnibus bill. Once again, I was unable to support this bill because it would raise billions of taxes by directly taking money out of the paychecks of each and every Minnesotan that earns wages in the state and includes extreme energy mandates that will drive up electric bills for Minnesota families while reducing the reliability of our energy grid.
Further, the bill does little to help jobs and employment in Greater Minnesota.
Health and Human Services
On Thursday, the House approved the Health and Human Services (HHS) omnibus bill. Unfortunately, I was once again unable to support this bill for a number of reasons.
First, the bill directly raises health care costs by reinstating the provider tax which will add an estimated $2.5 billion to the cost of health care over the next four years.
Second, the bill slashes nursing home rates by $68 million.
Third, the bill does next to nothing to address rampant fraud, waste, and abuse in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). In fact, the bill expands the program!
Fourth, the bill takes the first step towards a single-payer health care system by paying for the study of the benefits of single payer and requiring the creation of model legislation.
All in all, it’s a bad bill and was an easy “no” vote for me.
On Thursday night, the House approved the taxes omnibus bill.
The bill raises an incredible amount of money over the next four years, primarily on businesses, which will increase consumer prices and reduce wages and benefits for employees.
In fact, with a $1 billion surplus, Democrats are raising taxes by more than $12 billion over the next four years across the entirety of their proposed budget. These tax increases will make health care, gas, and everyday goods and services more expensive.
While Democrats like to talk about the minimal tax cuts in this bill, Governor Walz’s own administration admits that the Democrat tax hikes will raise taxes on all income levels, and hit low and middle-income hardest.
Staying in Touch
That’s all for this week’s update. Please be sure to contact me to share any questions or concerns you may have about anything related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to speak with you!
Have a great week,