It has been a busy week in St. Paul as we have spent long hours and long nights on the House floor passing a number of omnibus finance bills. These bills spend a tremendous amount of your tax dollars while also seeking to force you to pay even more in taxes. Further, many of these bills contain a number of controversial policy provisions that have little chance of becoming law thanks to the Republican majority in the Senate.
On Tuesday, the House approved the K-12 education omnibus bill. In total, this bill seeks to spend an additional $900 million over the next two years on education.
The bill’s funding relies on gas tax increases and shifts totaling more than $400 million from road and bridge funding to meet the extremely high budget target. Despite the funding, the bill also increases the funding disparity between Metro and Greater Minnesota schools by 4 percent.
I did not support the bill as it widens the funding gap between rural and metro school districts, relies on budgeting shifts and gimmicks, and makes harmful changes to bipartisan teacher licensure reforms that will lower standards for teachers in our classrooms.
Finally, the bill shockingly removes automatic denial and revocation requirements for teachers convicted of fifth-degree domestic assault. Democrats also rejected an amendment to include stays of adjudication in education-related background studies, aimed at closing a dangerous loophole that previously allowed sex offenders to drive a school bus.
The House approved the Jobs and Energy omnibus bill on Wednesday on a largely party-line vote. Once again, I did not support this bill as it puts billions in new taxes on every Minnesotans’ paycheck to pay for a massive, one-size-fits-all, government-run paid family leave program and will drive up the price up electricity while reducing the reliability of our energy grid.
I was also disappointed that the bill did little to address workforce development or jobs in Greater Minnesota as Democrats, once again neglecting the needs of rural Minnesota.
Health and Human Services
On Thursday, the House debated and passed the Health and Human Services omnibus bill. At over 1,100 this bill is believed to be the largest piece of legislation in state history.
Sadly, I once again was unable to support this bill. Instead of doing what they told Minnesotans they were going to do on the campaign trail this fall, Democrats are directly raising health care costs in this bill.
You read that right, Democrats are extending the state’s provider tax which will add an estimated $2.5 billion to the cost of health care over the next four years.
In addition to directly raising health care costs, the bill cuts nursing home funding and does nearly nothing to stop hundreds of millions in childcare and other public program fraud.
This bill represents a serious missed opportunity to lower health care costs and improve access and choice for Minnesotans.
Thursday evening saw the passage of the DFL’s tax omnibus bill.
The bill contains a number of new taxes that total more than $3 billion over the next four years including regressive taxes that disproportionately impact middle and lower income Minnesotans and new taxes on businesses that will increase the cost of goods and services and hurt wage growth for Minnesota employees.
The $3 billion in new taxes within the bill is part of a broader budget proposal by House Democrats that will raise taxes on Minnesotans by over $12 billion during the next four years including a 70% gas tax hike, billions in health care taxes, and over $2 billion in new taxes on Minnesotans paychecks to pay for their Paid Leave proposal.
At a time when the state has a $1 billion budget surplus, it is unconscionable to think $12 billion in tax increases is being proposed.
I will continue to fight to lower your tax burden.
Staying in Touch
If you are a supporter of Ethanol, I encourage you to visit this link to submit a comment during the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public comment period on a proposed rule that would allow the yearlong sale of E15 gasoline.
Here I am pictured with a John Deere tractor that runs on E15.
That’s all for this week’s update. I will have more for you as the session progresses as it’s sure to be a busy year. In the meantime, I urge you to contact me if you have any legislative questions, concerns, or ideas. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-5356 or via email at email@example.com.
Have a good weekend,