Throughout the past several weeks, we have passed budget bills that increase our investments in long-term care, ensure quality education for every Minnesota student, and prioritize our roads and bridges. Now, as we enter budget negotiations with the governor and Senate, negotiation have stalled over their insistence that you pay more at the pump by increasing the gas tax.
Raising the gas tax is not only unnecessary in light of the projected $2 billion budget surplus, but it is harmful to families in our district and to their budgets. A 6.5% gas tax would mean that the average family in our district would pay more than an additional $600 at the pump every year. Of course, if you travel frequently for business or school, that number would rise exponentially. We were sent to the Capitol to be wise stewards of your tax dollars, not to play partisan politics with family budgets.
Last week, I voted against raising the gas tax when it came to a vote on the House floor. In fact, every single one of my colleagues – Republican and DFL – voted against an increase, putting their opposition on the record. I will continue to oppose raising the gas tax, and will fight for your ability to keep more of your hard-earned income. As Minnesota Management and Budget said just this week, “lower gas prices are comparable to a tax cut, freeing up disposable income for spending on food and services.” You should have the ability to decide how to invest an extra $600 every year – not the government.
While negotiations continue, I have remained focused on passing bills to help everyday Minnesotans. SF1504, my bill to ensure the continuation of the E-Health Advisory Committee, Trauma Advisory Council, and Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force, passed the House and has been presented to the governor for his consideration. Perhaps most notable, my bill encourages the Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force to conduct a review of current data and practices surrounding stillbirths. While the birthing process is considerably safer in Minnesota than in many places around the world, we must ensure we are doing all we can to protect mothers and infants in the birthing process and that we are providing exceptional support after stillbirths have occurred.
I have also continued to keep a watchful eye on the avian flu epidemic. As a former 4-H exhibitor at the Minnesota State Fair, I am saddened by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health’s announcement that they will cancel exhibitions of birds at all 2015 fairs, swap meets, exotic sales, and petting zoos. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure a full recovery for our Minnesota poultry farmers.
If you would like to discuss these issues or any other issue further, please reach out to me via phone at (651) 296-2208, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will continue to update you as we reach the end of the legislative session.