This week, I attended a legislative reception hosted by the Chippewa Tribes of Minnesota, of which the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe is a member. The governor and lieutenant governor also attended and spoke during an excellent program.
We received the semi-annual economic forecast this week. The estimated budget surplus shrank by about a half a billion dollars to $1.05 billion for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020-21. Tax revenue collections were down since the previous forecast which had projected a $1.54 billion surplus.
Lower economic growth was sighted as the cause for reduced tax revenue. The forecast also projects continued slow growth with future spending growth exceeding forecast revenue growth in FY 2022-23.
This forecast is the last major piece of economic data we get before shaping the state’s next two-year budget. The Legislature and the governor must agree to a budget that reconciles state spending with the tax revenue necessary to fund that spending.
Minnesota’s Constitution requires that we operate on the basis of a balanced budget. It’s clear that Gov. Walz’s budget proposal has to be trimmed or the citizens of Minnesota will have to endure a large dose of tax increases.
The finance committees I serve on are responsible to work out budgets for the Department of Agriculture, Board of Animal Health, Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency, and Board of Soil and Water Resources. I am approaching that task with the understanding that it would unwise to increase taxes in the face of slowing economic growth.
The House Public Safety Committee held hearings on two gun control bills. One bill would greatly expand the current background check system requiring permits for all firearm purchases or changes in ownership. It would be a 30 day permit, good for one firearm transaction per permit.
The second bill would greatly expand the circumstances in which firearms could be seized from individuals. This bill is short on due process and approaches the issue of confiscation from a guilty until you prove yourself innocent approach.
I am following these bills closely. At this point, neither bill is acceptable. Both fail to focus on resolving the root causes of violence including the breakdown of the family unit, addiction and mental health issues.
Finally, just a reminder that here is your last chance to participate in the online survey I am conducting. Please click here to participate if you haven’t already done so. We will be consolidating the survey data on Monday.