Before we get into this week’s legislative news, I want to mention that Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, hosted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This event happens twice per year to help people safely dispose of unused medications and reduce misuse. Last October, a reported 900,000 pounds of unused medicines were collected nationwide. Visit www.takebackday.dea.gov to find a disposal location near you.
Our work at the Capitol this week has centered on omnibus finance bills as the Democrat majority brings forward its various proposals to fund the state’s next two year budget. I voted against each of these bills, which are so bad that it’s hard to see how House Democrats can fix all that’s wrong with them before our May 20 date for adjournment.
Here’s what I mean:
The health and human services bill cuts nursing home rates by $68 million, raises taxes on health care and allows rampant child care fraud to continue. The provider tax on health care would add an estimated $2.5 billion to the cost of our health care over the next four years. All this spending, yet the bill fails to combat widespread fraud in child care and other state programs.
The jobs/energy bill is full of tax increases, fees and regulations that would increase energy costs, create a new tax on Minnesotans’ paychecks and make life more expensive. The reality is this bill caters to Democrats’ special interest groups while making life more expensive in Minnesota. You know it’s bad when even the Star Tribune reported the Democrats’ 100 percent renewable mandate that would likely result in increased costs and a less reliable energy grid. The bill also includes the Democrats’ paid leave proposal with an estimated $1.6 billion in new taxes and 400 new, full-time state employees.
The K-12 education bill increases spending by $900 million, while also increasing the funding disparity between metro schools and schools in the rest of the state by 4 percent. This bill also includes a rather dicey sexual education mandate, which puts Planned Parenthood in charge of writing the sexual health curriculum. The “material” that could just as well be considered pornography may be presented to our children by unlicensed, uncertified people brought into schools.
The Democrats’ tax 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.
The $3 billion in new taxes within this 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.
The transportation bill which would raise the gas tax by 20 cents per gallon may come to the House floor yet today, but we may not reach a vote before the House is scheduled to adjourn at 3 p.m. in observance of Passover. In that case, expect discussion to resume Monday.
I am authoring an amendment which, instead of making the gas tax increase mandatory, allows people to decide at the pump whether they want to pay 20 cents more per gallon. If citizens are fully embracing the Democrats’ plan to raise the gas tax by 20 cents, then they certainly would jump at the opportunity to press a button to do so on their own free will. Maybe pumps could even be programmed so the really enthusiastic gas tax supporters could raise their own tax even beyond that extra 20 cents.
Look for more news next week as the stream of bad Democrat omnibus bills continues. Among other bills, we’ll have a chance to discuss a public safety bill that contains two gun-grabber provisions. My only regret is that I have but one “NO” vote to give on this bill.