As we end this week we are about to take up the House Transportation Finance Bill which I addressed in some detail last week. The bill proposes to increase gas and auto related taxes/fees by over $1.5 billion and adds driver’s licenses for illegals.
Despite the objections of most rural legislators, the bill will likely be sent over to the Senate as-is. The Senate transportation bill does not include the huge tax increases thus the bill will go to conference committee.
We are also dealing with a State Government Finance bill that includes significant unwarranted growth in state government.
A new school finance accountability team, a township specialist and an additional new special investigator position is proposed to be added to the state auditor’s office. Overall, the price tag equals about $3 million in new spending.
I seriously question the need for this new spending in particular the adding of new positions. Sometime ago the legislature allowed counties to contract for auditing services with private sector auditing firms. That has worked well and lowered costs to local taxpayers. This appears to be an effort to increase agency auditing capacity that is already available in the private sector.
Funding for the attorney general’s office is proposed to increase by about $11.7 million over the previous budget for a wide variety of activities that are already their responsibility, but they suggest are new initiatives.
In Minnesota, the primary responsibility for law enforcement rests with each of our 87 elected county attorneys. The state attorney general’s office plays an important supporting role for county attorney’s as county attorneys prosecute lawbreakers in name of the People of Minnesota.
Over the past several years the attorney general’s office has focused a lot of resources on suing the past administration in Washington DC and most recently aggressively pursuing severe civil penalties against small businesses across Minnesota that challenged the governor’s emergency orders. The issue today is not a lack of funding, but rather what are the spending priorities in this office.
Rest assured the legislature will appropriately fund Minnesota’s state agencies, but we have a bit more whittling to do on the price tag before taxpayers are asked to write the check for the next two-year state budget.
As we enjoy the increase in outdoor activities, please be safe.