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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nels Pierson (R)

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Legislative Update (May 10, 2019)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Best of luck to those of you who will be out fishing Saturday for the opener!

Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in our communities! This is a great occasion to recognize the immeasurable impact our mothers have on our lives. Remember to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to a mom in your life! 

As of today, here’s an update on where things stand at the Capitol.

Budget Bills

In recent weeks, the House has passed all of its budget bills to fund various areas of state government. I continue to hold numerous concerns with the spending, taxing, and controversial policy provisions in these bills. Despite a $1 billion budget surplus, Democrats’ bills would take more money from Minnesota families through taxes totaling $12 billion.

This tax hike is highlighted by a 70% gas tax increase, which would make living and driving in Minnesota more expensive.

In addition, the Star Tribune recently reported that Governor Walz’s administration confirmed his tax plan would hit low and middle-income Minnesotans the hardest. The report indicated that, under the governor’s plan, Minnesotans making under $45,000 would see double-digit percent increases in their tax burdens. Ultimately, when the state has a $1 billion budget surplus, $12 billion in new taxes is unnecessary and should be out of the question.

Sick Tax

Another harmful tax found in Democrats’ budget is the sick tax, which is a tax on nearly all healthcare services. The sick tax would make every trip to the doctor more expensive and would most affect the sickest Minnesotans who already have the highest medical bills. This is why I view it as an immoral tax on sick people.

I believe this tax is unjust because it singles out sick people facing high medical bills, and then disproportionately places on them the burden of paying for programs to help sick people. It should be the responsibility of all Minnesota taxpayers to fund state programs to help sick people – not solely the responsibility of those who are sick.

It’s wrong that someone who has serious conditions like cancer or diabetes, or even a simple broken bone, has to pay taxes (that healthy people who aren’t going to the doctor aren’t paying) on top of their medical bills. I don’t believe you should be forced to pay higher taxes just because you’re sick and need to go to the doctor.

In addition, the revenue collected from the sick tax goes to our state’s overall health and human services budget. This means the dollars often finance a number of other programs that won’t help the sick people who are paying the taxes and providing these funds. Again, it’s wrong to disproportionately tax sick people in order to pay for a long list of other government programs.

Conference Committee/Budget Negotiations

May 20 is the adjournment date for the 2019 legislative session, meaning a little over a week remains for us to get our work done. This week, work in conference committee for the various budget areas got underway. Conference committee is where lawmakers from the House and Senate work out differences in their respective budget bills. Once members of each body and party agree on the legislation, the bills are again voted on and sent to the governor for his signature or veto.

However, conference committees have been unable to do much work so far because the governor, House DFL majority, and Senate Republican majority haven’t agreed on spending targets for the budget. Once they’ve agreed on total spending numbers, conference committees will have a clearer picture of how much money can be spent in each area, and will then be able to better work towards an agreement.

So far, I’ve been disappointed by the governor and House Democrats’ unwillingness to compromise during budget negotiations. Democrats haven’t compromised any of their $12 billion tax increases. While they have proposed spending reductions by $200 million in their budget plan, in a nearly $50 billion proposed budget, that isn’t much of a compromise. In fact, it works out to less than half a percent decrease. In the days ahead, I’m hopeful each side will work to find real compromise in order to produce a responsible budget plan that doesn’t inundate Minnesotans with tax increases.

Please Contact Me

If you have any input on legislative issues, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached at 651-296-4378 or rep.nels.pierson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

House Image

Nels

 

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