We continued our work this week by passing the remaining omnibus finance bills off the House floor. Like last week, I had a number of concerns with both the spending and policy provisions in these bills. Democrats have proved time and again that despite a $1 billion budget surplus, they will continue to take more money from Minnesota families through excessive taxes and fees.
Monday saw the passage of the Democrats’ transportation bill (House File 1555) which increases the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon – a 70% increase – and in total raises taxes by more than $4 billion dollars over four years. The bill passed on a 74-58 vote with bipartisan opposition.
In addition to the 20 cents per gallon increase, which would give Minnesota the fourth highest gas tax in the country, the House Democrat transportation bill increases the vehicle registration tax, the metro sales tax, and the new vehicle sales tax. Further, the bill transfers statutorily dedicated auto parts sales tax funds — $417 million in 2020-21 – into the general fund. This reversed the major investments House & Senate Republicans made during the last biennium to fund road and bridge infrastructure without a gas tax increase.
It is estimated that nearly half of the 20 cent gas tax would go towards backfilling the money taken out of the transportation investments made last session by Republicans.
House and Senate Republicans proved last year that we can fund our transportation infrastructure needs without raising any new funds by using already existing revenue streams. The Democrat plan will make lives for Minnesotans more expensive at a time when the state has a $1 billion budget surplus. This is not the way forward and I am hopeful that the Senate Republican majority will be able to hold the line and prevent these harmful tax and fee increases from becoming law.
Also taking place Monday was debate and passage of the public safety bill. Sadly, the legislation will actually make communities less safe by reducing sentencing and penalties for criminals. It also includes two highly-controversial gun control bills. The bill passed on a 70-64 vote with 5 Democrats voting against the bill, the most of any DFL budget bill thus far. The fact that 5 Democrats voted against their leadership proves just how controversial this bill was.
As a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I was proud to vote “no” on this bill. The gun measures in this legislation will do little to prevent gun violence and will instead create additional barriers for law-abiding Minnesotans looking to exercise their constitutional right to own a firearm.
State Government Finance
On Tuesday, the House approved the state government finance bill. This legislation grows government bureaucracy and increases government spending by over $101 million, nearly $21 million more than Governor Walz’s has proposed for the same agencies. The bill also includes an increase to the House budget that funds pay hikes approved earlier this year by the salary commission that was first established by a Democrat-approved constitutional amendment.
In addition to the bills highlighted above, we also approved legislation related to agriculture, higher education and environment and natural resources.
Like the other bills, I had serious concerns about the spending and tax increases included in these bills. While I voted against the higher education and environment bills, I was able to support the agriculture bill.
Now that the House has approved its 2019 finance bills, Democrat leadership in the House and Republican leadership in the Senate will begin meeting to negotiate differences in the two bodies’ budget bills.
There’s not a ton of time left until final adjournment and with lots of work left to do, it remains to be seen if House Democrats can work with the Senate to get our work done on time.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns regarding these bills or anything else related to state government, please do not hesitate to contact me. 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 weekend,