Pictured in 1948, my mother, Barbara McDonald. A happy belated Mother’s Day to mothers.
We have good news from the Capitol to start today’s newsletter after the Legislature recently provided overwhelming approval of legislation which supports our veterans.
Overall, the veterans and military affairs package (S.F. 4233) that was approved appropriates an additional $2.2 million to the Department of Military Affairs and an additional $52.351 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It passed the House 122-1 and cleared the Senate with no opposition before being presented to the governor for enactment.
Our veterans put their life on the line to protect us and we owe it to them to provide the resources they need not only when they are active, but when their service concludes. It is important the Legislature came together with such strong, bipartisan support for our military members.
Features of the bill include more than $10 million for construction cost increases for the three new veterans’ homes in Bemidji, Montevideo, and Preston, and more than $16 million for enhancements and furnishings to these facilities. Veterans and Gold Star families who served post-9/11 will receive a total of $24.8 million post-service bonus payments. The bill also includes funding to address veteran homelessness, money for the State Veterans Cemetery in Redwood Falls, and other veterans related programs.
In other news, the House and Senate both have finished bringing its omnibus bills to the floor for preliminary approval and now real negotiations are ramping up in advance of our May 23 adjournment.
One common thread among the various omnibus bills is that, despite a historic state surplus, House Democrats fail to provide Minnesotans with meaningful, permanent tax cuts. For example, the omnibus tax bill for this session spends $1.645 billion in 2022-23 and another $1.6 billion in 2024-25 but focuses more on credits instead of permanent reductions and does not fully exempt the state tax on Social Security.
In total, the House Democrat budget bills this session spend $21 for every $1 in tax cuts.
This is a major opportunity being missed. The state has a massive surplus and people are paying higher prices for nearly everything in the Biden-Walz economy, making real tax relief as important as ever. But House Democrats provide very little in that regard – again, spending $21 for every $1 in tax cuts.
This would only serve to keep us at a competitive disadvantage compared with our neighboring states in terms of tax burdens as Minnesota continues to have some of the highest rates in the nation. This session I authored legislation to help by reducing income tax rates across the board and will continue advocating for that approach. Ten other states reduced income taxes last year and Minnesota is only falling further behind them.
The February forecast projected a $9.3 billion state surplus and revenue has continued to rise since then, including another $1.15 billion above projections in April. The state is clearly over-collecting tax dollars and, in an era of 40-year price increases, it is high time we offer tax cuts to reduce the burden on Minnesotans.
Stay tuned as we make our way toward the end of the session. As often is said at the Capitol, the situation remains fluid.