It was another busy week in St. Paul with the third and final committee deadline being today. Given this, much of our time this week was spent in committee working on and finalizing omnibus finance bills. These bills will make their way to the House floor for a vote by the whole body in the weeks to come.
A critically important provision in the Health and Human Services omnibus bill (approved by the committee last night) would prevent a 7 percent wage cut for the people caring for Minnesota’s disabled community. This provision invests money through grants to ensure providers don’t see their wages fall this summer as a result of cuts in federal aid. Rural Minnesota is currently experiencing an urgent crisis for staff to care for disabled individuals, resulting in facilities being closed and a lack of care accessibility. This provision will help ensure care providers are paid competitive wages and allow people to have access to the care and facilities they need. I am pleased to see this important issue addressed in this bill, and will continue to advocate for it as it continues to move through the legislative process.
In late February, state officials announced a $329 million budget surplus for the state of Minnesota. Last week, the House adopted supplemental budget targets for how to use that surplus. House Republicans remain focused on dedicating the majority of this surplus to providing meaningful tax relief to Minnesota’s middle class families in addition to making transportation investments in roads and bridges.
The governor also put out a budget proposal and the Department of Revenue reports it would raise taxes on every income bracket. The report (from the governor’s own Department of Revenue) also says households making less than $32,000 would be hit hardest. Governor Dayton has proposed reinstating more than $1 billion in health care tax increases, repealing tax reductions enacted last session, and numerous changes reacting to tax changes at the federal level.
House Republicans plan to take a different approach with our supplemental tax bill, which we will be unveiling soon. While some of the details are still coming together, it will be primarily focused on returning surplus dollars to Minnesotans in the form of tax relief. We will also seek to hold as many Minnesotans as harmless as possible as we adjust to changes in the federal tax code.
Deputy Registrar Repayment
Under legislation approved by the House yesterday, deputy registrars across the state would receive some assistance for the costs they have incurred as result of the failures of MNLARS. Recognizing that deputy registrars have been spending dollars out of their own pocket due to the system’s many shortcomings, the House plan would appropriate $9 million from Driver and Vehicle Services operating accounts for reimbursement aid. Deputy registrars have been struggling due to the MNLARS mess, and I voted in favor of this bill in order to provide them with some much needed aid. The bill now heads to the Senate for approval.
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