A few topics of note as the Legislature wraps up another week before taking some time off to observe the Easter/Passover holiday:
Avian flu funding approved
The House and Senate this week both approved $1 million in funding to help the Minnesota Department of Agriculture cover avian influenza-related expenses until after the legislature’s Easter/Passover break.
It is good to see this response come together in rather short order. It shows what can be done when we focus on doing the right thing. We will keep working with the Dept. of Ag. and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue our efforts to stop this wave of avian influenza and assist poultry farmers who are impacted.
On a related note, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health has established a hotline for people to call with avian influenza concerns or questions. The number is 1-833-454-0156.
Proposed budget totals unclear
While odd-numbered years are officially when the Legislature establishes new state budgets, a $10 billion state surplus is driving more discussion on state fiscal matters in 2022.
Republicans in the House and Senate both propose using as much of the surplus as possible to provide maximum permanent, meaningful tax relief. The Senate Republican supplemental budget proposal would provide more than $8.43 billion in tax relief over the next three years, which would be the biggest tax cut in Minnesota history.
On the other hand, House Democrats have not formally disclosed dollar figures for their various proposals. This is resulting in a lack of transparency, preventing the public from understanding what the House majority proposes to do with the $10 billion the state has over-collected from taxpayers.
House Republicans have crunched the numbers and estimate House Democrats propose $21 in government spending for every $1 in tax cuts. This simply does not jive with the fact people are feeling the weight of soaring price increases and the state has a massive revenue surplus.
Again, this historic surplus presents us with an opportunity to provide overtaxed Minnesotans with unprecedented relief. This historic surplus should not be viewed as a license to spend more tax dollars on government programs.
No progress on fixing unnecessary tax increase
There still is no news to report on the House taking corrective measures to end the unnecessary unemployment insurance tax increase House Democrat inaction recently caused Minnesota employers to suffer. This issue can be resolved simply by the House passing the same legislation the Senate approved a month and a half ago with a veto-proof majority. So far, the House majority has not allowed this bill to come to the floor for a vote.
I will be back with more from the Capitol soon. In the meantime, your input always is welcome.