Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last Wednesday evening, Governor Walz delivered his first State of the State Address. At the speech, I was honored to be joined by my guests Josie Alleva and his sister, Rose. Click here to read more about Josie’s inspiring story of overcoming hardship from a traumatic brain injury.
In his speech, the governor called for unification and compromise for the good of Minnesota. As we look ahead to the work we have in front of us – assembling a state budget for the next two years – finding common ground will certainly be necessary. Putting together the budget is the legislature’s primary responsibility this year and will consume most of the debate from now until the end of session. With the size and content of the budget proposals we’ve received from the governor and the Democrat majority so far, we have a difficult task ahead to reach agreement on the final budget.
I have some deep concerns with the current budget proposals: not only with the expansive new government programs and mandates, but especially with the overall spending and hefty tax increases that the budget calls for. The governor’s proposed budget is nearly $50 billion dollars, grows our state government by over 8%, and contains $2 billion in new spending. Total tax increases in the governor’s budget amount to $3.4 billion dollars, including a 23% increase in taxes on business and $53 million in new property taxes.
The governor’s budget is highlighted by a 20 cent per gallon gas tax increase (a 70% increase), which would raise the cost of every gas station visit and increase the price of goods and services for all Minnesotans. It also includes increased taxes on auto sales and titles. In regards to healthcare, it includes a continuation of the sick tax that I fear will make healthcare more expensive, especially for the sickest Minnesotans already facing mounting medical bills. In addition, I have deep concerns by the omission of the reinsurance plan from Democrats’ proposed budgets. This program has proven to significantly lower insurance rates on the individual market for each of the last two years. And it requires NO new money to continue.
These are a handful of the proposals that would make life more expensive for Minnesota families. With a budget surplus exceeding $1 billion, such expansive tax increases are not necessary to fund our priorities.
I know legislative Republicans and Democrats, and Governor Walz, ultimately share the goal of making Minnesota a better place to call home. I think we all understand what pressing problems need to be addressed – issues such as affordable and accessible healthcare, solving funding challenges for our schools, expanding access to mental health services, stemming the growth of addictions, and funding our roads and bridges. However, it’s also clear we have very different visions of how to tackle these challenges and move our state forward.
In the weeks ahead, I will continue to work hard to address these issues while working to find common ground with my legislative colleagues and the governor. My main priority going forward is creating a responsibly-sized state budget without burdening taxpayers with huge tax increases and unnecessary mandates.
If you want to discuss these budget priorities and learn more about activity at the Capitol during the remainder of the legislative session, I invite you to a few listening sessions in our area. I’m hosting a series of four listening sessions on Monday, April 15th. These events are open to the public, and everyone is invited to stop by to ask questions and offer input.
From healthcare costs to transportation funding to families’ tax burdens, a lot of important decisions will be made at the legislature in April and May. I want to hear from you about how these proposals will affect your daily lives. I’ve always believed our government should be an ongoing conversation between elected officials and the people they represent, and it’s important for those who are impacted by lawmakers’ decisions to provide feedback. Understanding your concerns will be crucial as I continue my efforts in the weeks ahead to lower healthcare costs, craft a responsible state budget that allows you to keep more of your paychecks, and address fraud and waste in state government.
A detailed schedule of the day’s events can be found below:
Cannon Falls City Hall Council Chambers
918 River Road, Cannon Falls
11:30 am -12:30 pm
Red Wing Ignite Building Community Room
419 Bush Street, Red Wing
Wabasha City Hall Council Chambers
900 Hiawatha Drive E, Wabasha
Lake City VFW
115 N Franklin Street, Lake City
Staying in Touch
If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding any issue, please feel free to contact me. I can be best reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 651-296-8635.
Have a great weekend,