The start of the 2020 legislative session is less than a month away and I have started making preparations for what’s sure to be another busy year in St. Paul. With the state’s two-year budget passed and signed into law last year, the coming legislative session will likely focus strongly on policy initiatives.
No single issue will likely impact the 2020 session more than the state’s projected $1.3 billion budget surplus. News of the surplus first emerged in early December when state economists unveiled their annual November budget forecast.
The surplus allows the state to completely fill our rainy day fund. This means Minnesota now has $2.359 billion available the next time we face an economic downturn.
News of a substantial budget surplus is reflective of a robust state and federal economy and means that government is taking in more revenue than needed. With our budget reserves fully funded, and state revenue growing due to a strong economy, it’s clear that the surplus should be returned to taxpayers via additional tax relief. Simply put, folks deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money.
One proposal to consider is senior citizen tax relief. Specifically, we could take a close look at eliminating state law that forces income taxation of Social Security benefits. Other possibilities include reducing healthcare taxes, reductions in income tax, and more.
Either way, the surplus belongs to Minnesota taxpayers and makes clear that any plans Democrats may have to raise taxes or grow government should be put on hold.
Another item that will play a key role during this year’s legislative session is the prospect of a bonding bill—legislation in which the state borrows money to pay for public works projects. Bonding bills are traditionally passed during sessions that take place in even-numbered years.
Governor Walz has spent the fall and winter traveling around the state, touting his bonding proposal. In total, the governor is proposing the state borrow more than $2 billion to pay for a wide variety of projects.
Such a large bonding bill is a complete non-starter mainly because the state already pays over a billion dollars every two years for debt service thanks to bonding bills from years past. We simply cannot continue to put more and more money on the state’s “credit card”. It isn’t fair or wise for generations of future Minnesotans.
I should clarify that many bonding projects are wholly deserving and worthwhile initiatives like wastewater treatment plants, road and bridge repairs, and important fixes to public buildings. However, we can prioritize funding these projects with cash instead of borrowing more and more while strapping future generations with debt.
Please be sure to reach out to me and share your thoughts and priorities for the upcoming legislative session. It would be great to hear from you! I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,