Hello from the State Capitol,
With nearly two weeks of the 2022 legislative session behind us, things have begun to move forward in a number of areas. As Minnesota is currently facing a $7.7 billion surplus, there are no shortages of ideas in the legislature as to how this revenue should be allocated.
Though this projection is the result of the state’s November economic forecast, it does appear that the estimates continue to be holding up. A Minnesota Management and Budget January economic update found that Minnesota’s net general fund receipts for November and December of 2021 were estimated to total $4.954 billion, or $833 million (20.2 percent) more than forecast in the November 2021 Budget and Economic Forecast. We are expected to receive an updated projection again later this month, which I look forward to reviewing given the updated inflation numbers that made national headlines yesterday.
A few days ago, the Minnesota House approved legislation that would extend COVID-19 compensation coverage for frontline workers. It extends current law presuming that many essential employees that contract COVID-19 did so while on the job, meaning they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. According to the bill, this extension now continues to January 13, 2023. The legislation was approved on a 124-8 vote in the House, and a 66-0 vote in the Senate. The Governor is doing a ceremonial signing of the bill later today.
We are also working towards a solution to prevent local business owners from seeing a huge tax increase. Record-setting unemployment claims depleted Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund at the start of the pandemic. This resulted in a debt of more than $1 billion to the federal government, which provided Minnesota with the assistance. To make up for that loss, payroll tax rates on business owners will increase on March 15 by 15% or more to replenish the fund.
Minnesota has more than $1 billion in unspent federal COVID relief funds. In the Minnesota House Workforce and Business Development Policy and Finance Committee this week, a bill was heard that would use this revenue to replenish the UI Trust Fund.
Along with the hero pay legislation that recognizes those professionals who were on the front lines during the most uncertain times of the pandemic, stopping the employer tax increase is the right thing to do. I’m hopeful these provisions make their way to the House Floor cleanly soon, as we need to show our support to these Minnesotans.
Have a good weekend,