Our state government continues to possess massive revenue overages at a time taxpayers are having to stretch their dollars further amid higher prices in our current economy.
A new economic forecast issued by Minnesota Management & Budget this week projects a $9.3 billion biennial surplus. That dollar figure is $1.5 billion more than the already large $7.7 billion surplus projected in November.
This surplus of nearly $10 billion represents a great opportunity to deliver historic, permanent tax relief to Minnesotans. Tax relief should be our top focus the rest of this session, and we can start by eliminating the state tax on Social Security and acting to prevent businesses from suffering higher unemployment insurance rates in mid-March as currently scheduled.
It is unfortunate to see little to no progress is being made in the House on rectifying the unemployment tax issue with that March 15 deadline for legislation to be enacted drawing nearer. The Senate already overwhelmingly passed its UI bill a couple of weeks ago on a bipartisan vote. Gov. Walz, House Republicans, Senate Republicans, and Senate Democrats all support full UI relief.
The hang-up appears to be in the House, where the majority has not come forward with a clean bill that fully solves the issue and instead seems to be leveraging this bill against other, unrelated subjects.
Time is short and it would be a great injustice for the House majority to let this deadline pass without acting. A recent newspaper article provides some anecdotal projections showing this would result in tax increases in the tens of thousands of dollars for Minnesota businesses – costs that ultimately would be passed along to consumers.
The state has a massive surplus and people already are suffering 40-year price increases in today’s rocky economy. Let’s pass a clean UI bill and put this issue behind us.
In other news, House Republicans this week unveiled a package of bills to address 2022 public safety priorities. The series of measures focuses on three key areas: crime prevention and accountability for criminals; police recruitment and retention; and holding the criminal justice system accountable.
Minnesotans expect and deserve better public safety than we’ve seen during the current wave of violent crimes in our state. This package will help make our streets safer and I may take a closer look at what is included in an upcoming letter.
On a final note, I continue working closely with capital investment proposals as the House minority lead on this subject. Two bills I have authored – one for a Camp Courage project in Annandale and another to deliver much-needed affordable workforce housing to Meeker County – recently received positive hearings and remain in the mix for consideration this session.
Stay tuned for more from the House soon and, as always, your feedback is welcome.