Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I write to you this week with some news from the Capitol, including info on a few legislative packages being considered in the House.
Last week, Democrats in the House rolled out some of their “omnibus” budget bills for various areas. One such bill is their transportation package, which includes a harmful and unnecessary 20 cent per gallon gas tax increase. Such a massive increase represents a 70% gas tax hike and would give Minnesota the 4th highest gas tax in the entire country. It would make life more expensive for every Minnesota family and would raise the cost of goods and services around the state.
The governor has repeatedly said that this gas tax hike is necessary for our state to invest in transportation infrastructure. However, it’s important to understand that, of this 20 cent increase, the first seven cents won’t go towards transportation at all. Instead, these first seven cents will go to further grow government and inflate our state’s general fund budget. This means a good chunk of this tax increase wouldn’t actually be going to fix and build roads and bridges.
Last session, Republicans demonstrated that responsible investments in roads and bridges can be made without increasing the gas tax, when we delivered the largest road and bridge investment in state history. This year, Republicans are again putting forth a similar approach: invest in roads and bridges using the sales tax dollars Minnesotans are already paying on auto parts. Put simply, we don't need to increase gas taxes and take more money from Minnesotans when we have a budget surplus.
I’m serving on the Housing Finance and Policy Division this year, which gives me the opportunity to work firsthand on issues surrounding housing costs. In the first three months of the legislative session, there was a lot of discussion about what could be done to determine factors leading to high housing costs and find ways to reduce these costs. I believe one of the major contributors to high housing and home construction costs is Minnesota’s unfavorable regulatory climate, including high permitting fees, mandates and building codes, and other restrictions.
In fact, the Housing Affordability Institute released a report earlier this year detailing numerous land and regulatory policies that are driving up costs for new home construction in Minnesota, resulting in homes costing tens of thousands more in Minnesota than in Wisconsin and other surrounding states. One example found that the same home in Lake Elmo, Minnesota costs $47,000 more than an identical home in Hudson, Wisconsin, just ten miles away
As the Democrat majority put together an omnibus bill pertaining to housing issues, I felt the above factors needed to be addressed. Unfortunately, their bill fails to take on these issues, which contribute most significantly to high housing costs. It also fails to address the immediate need for cost-effective workforce housing in growing communities around the state and in Greater Minnesota.
Instead of taking steps to address these problems, the bill turns to government subsidies and more state control over housing. Rather than more government, the best approach to reducing housing costs is rolling back the cost-raising fees and restrictions behind these high costs. I remain concerned with this legislation for these reasons, and I'm hopeful we can fix them before this bill is approved by the legislature as a whole.
Speaking on housing issues on the House floor last week.
Please Contact Me
If you have any questions or thoughts on any legislative issue, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4378 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,