We are reaching the end of the first month in the 2021 session and headlines of late include developments pertaining to the governor’s budget proposal, along with more changes to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Minnesota.
Gov. Walz issues budget propsal
Gov. Tim Walz recently released his $52.4 billion budget proposal for the 2021-22 biennium. This represents a spending increase of approximately 9.5% above the state’s current operating budget. His plan includes a $1.7 billion tax increase, with only $150 million in savings in state spending, which is only ~0.3% of the budget.
The governor’s tax increases include a 15% hike to Minnesota's business (corporate) tax rate (9.8%->11.25%), making ours the second-highest rate in the nation. He also proposes a 10% increase to the top tax bracket, creating a fifth tier and giving Minnesota the third-highest income tax rate in the nation.
Overall, $941 million of the governor’s $1.7 billion in tax increases are regressive, impacting Minnesotans of every income level. Minnesota Management & Budget estimates show that corporate, sales, and tobacco tax increases disproportionately impact low-income Minnesotans harder than wealthy taxpayers.
In any case, the governor's proposal is just the first step in the budget process. The House and Senate will each issue their respective plans after receiving the February forecast with an updated snapshot of our state's economic outlook. Then, negotiations will begin in earnest as we look to find agreement before the Legislature is set to adjourn in late May.
COVID-19 vaccination update
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been an ever-changing process in Minnesota and yesterday it was announced pilot sites around the state, including Fergus Falls, are not taking new appointments. However, now eligible Minnesotans may receive their shots at clinics, community vaccination sites and hospitals around Minnesota. Please visit the Find My Vaccine link for the latest information.
Last week I submitted a legislative column to area newspapers. My message is that restoring balance at the Capitol would not only result in better policy but will also give Minnesotans more confidence that their voices are heard. The legislative process has not only been circumvented on COVID-19 responses but is occurring on other matters as well with the governor seeking administrative rule changes that have the effect of law. Check local papers or click here for my full column.
‘Your Legislators’ TV show appearance
It was an honor to participate in last Thursday’s “Your Legislators” show. This program is a wide-ranging roundtable discussion of the latest issues at the Capitol, complete with questions from the viewing audience. Your Legislators airs live statewide on PBS and you also can click here to watch the show in which I appeared or catch up on previous episodes.
As always, stay in touch and let me know how I may help.