I would like to start today’s newsletter by sending wishes for a happy Mother’s Day. Thank you to mothers, for all that you do not only on this special holiday, but the other 364 days of the year as well.
As for the latest from St. Paul, budget negotiations continue in the hopes of having agreement on a new two-year plan before the Legislature’s May 17 date for adjournment. The biggest gap to resolve between what the House and Senate majorities propose continues to center on taxes. The House majority proposes a multi-billion-dollar tax increase, including hikes on gasoline, license tabs, Main Street businesses, and middle-class Minnesotans in general.
The House also has yet to fully exempt businesses from taxes on federally issued and forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans issued during the pandemic. In other words, the House would have the state profit from the hardships of businesses.
Meanwhile, Senate has expressed opposition to taxes and every budget bill in that body has earned bipartisan support. That is the position I support, and hope prevails. Tax increases are unnecessary at a time the state has more than $4 billion in surplus funds and our next state budget should focus on helping Minnesota families and businesses regain their footing after so many suffered losses in income over the past year.
In other news, Gov. Tim Walz has announced a timeline for loosening Minnesota’s COVID-19 restrictions. While it is good to see another step in the right direction, the state also needs a transparent and concrete process for ending Minnesota’s peacetime emergency that has been in place for more than one year.
The governor laid out a clear set of dates and data-driven metrics for lifting his restrictions. The same process should apply to the governor’s emergency powers themselves because there is no end date in sight for some of those. Minnesotans deserve to know how and when the governor plans to fully let go of these powers he has had in effect the last 14 months. COVID-19 numbers are down, vaccination numbers are up and any need for emergency action is long over.
It’s time to start talking openly about the process of getting back to normal and that includes restoring balance at the Capitol and returning Minnesota’s representative system of government to its people. House Republicans have voted nearly 20 times to end the peacetime emergency and have put forward numerous proposals to end or modify the governor’s Chapter 12 powers, as well as proposals to establish timelines and metrics that would end the peacetime emergency.
Stay tuned as things unfold during the last week and a half of this session and let’s all hope for a bipartisan budget agreement that lets us get our work done on time.