It was another busy week in St. Paul with numerous committee hearings and time spent on the House floor debating and voting on legislation.
Here’s an update on what’s happening at the state capitol.
New Budget Surplus
Last week, Minnesota Management and Budget released the annual February budget forecast showing a budget surplus of $1.5 billion.
The new figure of $1.5 billion is almost $200 million more than what was initially projected back in early December. This is further proof that the economy continues to do well as the state takes in tax revenue at higher levels than expected.
I will continue to advocate for returning the surplus to hardworking Minnesotans through tax relief and expect House Republicans to release a tax relief proposal sometime in the coming weeks that proposes ways we can ensure more folks keep their hard-earned money.
It’s time for tax relief.
Paid Family Leave
On Thursday, the House approved a single-payer, government-run paid sick and family leave program. Sick and family leave benefits are a positive thing and help make families stronger as mothers and fathers can stay home with a newborn or folks can take time off to tend to an ailing family member.
Working to ensure that more Minnesotans have access to paid sick and family leave is a worthwhile goal and is something I hope more and more businesses will embrace. Unfortunately, the legislation that was approved on Thursday does not present a realistic path forward in achieving that goal.
The DFL proposal would establish a state insurance bureaucracy funded with a brand-new employer and employee payroll tax that would apply to all employees and independent contractors resulting in millions of dollars of wages lost for hard-working Minnesotans.
Put more simply, this bill would take upwards of $2 billion directly out of the paychecks of anyone earning a wage in Minnesota.
The lessons we have learned the last few years from the MNsure and MNLARS boondoggles have made crystal clear that the state should not be looking for new ways to create more government bureaucracy, especially bureaucracy that will take money out of every Minnesotans’ paycheck.
Relief for Farmers
Also taking place Thursday was the approval of a bill that provides funds for the Rural Finance Authority (RFA) loan program.
The RFA is an important entity that helps farmers recover from natural disasters, and make critical equipment upgrades as they prepare for the coming growing season.
The program had run out of funding recently, so it was important to make sure their funding was replenished as soon as possible.
Staying in Touch
On Monday, I joined a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of state legislators to announce the formation of a new group dedicated to reforming Minnesota’s criminal justice system. Members of the newly formed Criminal Justice Reform Caucus will work together to improve Minnesota’s approach to criminal justice and public safety.
All across America, in Congress and statehouses alike, we have seen Republicans and Democrats unite to support bipartisan criminal justice reform measures that improve safety in our communities and invest in men and women who want to turn their lives around once they’re released from prison. I am excited to see where this leads and look forward to working together with folks to get things done that we can all agree on.
As always, please be sure to reach out to me to share any thoughts, questions, or concerns you may have regarding state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4293 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend,