Minnesotans rightfully expect results from their elected representatives, which is what makes the total lack of production in the House this session so concerning.
This is as challenging a period as most people have seen in a lifetime, yet the House majority has done next to nothing the last two and a half months (other than block efforts that would restore our representative system of government instead of allowing one person to continue calling all the shots).
Through the first 10 weeks of the session, the House had provided final approval to just five bills and none of them are headliners. That is the fewest bills approved at that point in a session since at least 1995 – the earliest records are available on the House website. So, while almost nothing is happening in the House, time is passing on time-sensitive legislation to correct tax problems for businesses and workers, provide funding for our law enforcement and help children who need to catch up in school after a year of distance learning.
These should not be partisan issues and it is absurd for them to be taken so casually by the majority. House Republicans made efforts to bring bills to the floor addressing all of the aforementioned subjects this week but the majority turned way each attempt.
It started Monday, when a motion was made to take up legislation to eliminate the state tax on forgiven federal Paycheck Protection Program loans. Minnesota is the only state in the upper Midwest that has yet to exempt these loans and, without approval of a bill, businesses could owe hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in state income taxes.
The Senate recently passed a PPP tax relief bill with a veto-proof majority on a 55-12 vote but, despite that broad, bipartisan support, the House majority remains unwilling to act. We have heard every excuse under the sun for the delays but, again, those are just excuses. To top it off, March 15 was the deadline to file business taxes, meaning inactivity will force businesses to file extensions, creating additional tax preparation headaches and costs.
Gov. Walz released his revised budget proposal Thursday. It includes $670 million in tax hikes despite a $1.6 billion surplus and $2.5 billion coming to the state from the recently passed federal relief bill. The governor’s revised budget fails to fully exempt those PPP loans from state taxes and includes tax hikes on both individual and corporate income taxes.
So, to look at this another way, the state is more than $4 billion to the good, has flush reserve accounts and the governor wants to raise taxes. During a pandemic. And, yes, the governor wants to take more money from people he has either told they can’t work or has caused to lose income.
It is hard to think of a worse time to raise taxes. They aren’t necessary to balance the budget, so we are only left to wonder why, just why, someone might propose them.
The House Democrats will come out with their own budget plan in the next week and we shouldn’t expect anything less than more proposed tax increases. The Speaker of the House herself recently said they are necessary. I guess some people really can’t get enough of other people’s money.
Watch for more as this develops. Until next time, have a good weekend as we welcome spring and see signs of another long Minnesota winter giving way. Be careful if you venture out on the ice and, before you know it, it will be time to get our boats back in the water for another season.