Last year, lawmakers were looking forward to the prospects of a $1.2 billion surplus for the current legislative session. Fast forward to February of this year and we received some not so great news. The state is now looking at a $900 million projected budget surplus—a $300 million reduction from November. To make the budget picture even murkier, since February, revenue has consistently come in under projections—meaning that the state is not taking in as much tax revenue as predicted.
With the news of a diminished budget surplus—one that shows we may be heading for a budget deficit in the future—and declining revenue, common sense would lead one to believe that it would be best to show fiscal restraint and reign in the size of government. Think again. Governor Dayton and Senate DFLers are back to their same tricks this year, advocating for tax and spend budget policies.
In mid-March, the governor proposed a supplemental budget that would spend money above and beyond the two year state budget that was set and signed into law last year. In the proposal, he calls for a $581 million increase in state spending.
In addition to this boost in spending, the governor proposes to raise the gas tax at the wholesale level by a minimum of 16 cents per gallon, which would rise as the wholesale price of crude oil rises. This proposal would raise taxes by as much as $900 million per year. To expect Minnesotans to pay as much as $900 million a year in new taxes, especially when DFLers raised taxes by $2.1 billion in 2013, is unconscionable.
As for the Senate, they are proposing more of the same. Increased spending and a gas tax that will continue to raid the pocketbooks of hard-working Minnesotans.
Have no fear, the House's plan stands in contrast to both the governor's and Senate’s plan, instead proposing a supplemental budget that has a net-zero effect. This means that we reprioritize existing spending to focus on our priorities instead of simply spending and taxing more and more.
By not proposing any new spending or taxes, we leave the entire $900 million budget surplus untouched—leaving it for meaningful tax relief and roads and bridges.
When Minnesota families take in less money than expected, they tighten their budgets. State government should do the same. Let’s focus on ways we can reign in out of control spending and bring common sense back to government budgeting.
As always, if you have any legislative questions or concerns, you can contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 651-296-3201.
Have a great weekend,