Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It's been a busy first couple weeks back at the Capitol. Here is an update from St. Paul.
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Legislation
On Thursday, the House passed legislation to extend unemployment benefits to eligible out-of-work employees on the Iron Range, as well as provide a boost to businesses across the state by giving them credit toward payments to our currently overfunded Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
The first section of the bill extends unemployment benefits for 26 weeks to help workers who were laid off after the recent downturn in the steel industry. The second portion of the bill right-sizes the state's overfunded Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which is currently carrying a near all-time high $1.5 billion balance. This bill credits future payments of just under $260 million to employers and reduces their future obligation to the trust fund when the balance exceeds the fully-funded threshold. With these extra dollars, businesses can reinvest, expand and hire more employees.
Also important to note, this legislation provides assistance to those in need and provides a boost to Minnesota businesses without impacting the state's General Fund.
Governor Dayton's Gas Tax Increase
Last week, Governor Dayton released his supplemental budget recommendations, and I am sorry to report that it includes a renewed push for his historic gas tax increase. When Minnesota has a $900 million surplus, we should not be raising more than $900 million in taxes per year on drivers in our state. Last session, folks in my district overwhelmingly opposed this tax hike which takes more money out of the pockets of hardworking Minnesotans.
In addition to raising the gas tax, the governor's plan also includes $581 million in spending, with some wasteful provisions like $500,000 to study the benefits of implementing a single-payer health care system in Minnesota.
In all, the governor's plan continues his pattern of prioritizing government growth over family budgets. With our state's $900 million surplus, I am committed to passing tax relief for middle class Minnesotans and funding for our roads and bridges without a burdensome gas tax increase.
For all those who celebrate the holiday, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy Easter!
Whether you're attending church, traveling out of town or bringing the kids on an Easter egg hunt, I hope you enjoy your Easter and get to spending quality time with loved ones. Have a fun, safe and joyous holiday.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family on a matter of state government. I am here to serve you!
Have a wonderful week.