Another busy week in St. Paul was dominated by details of Governor Tim Walz’s first budget proposal. Minnesota state law requires a sitting governor to submit a proposed state budget to the legislature in odd-numbered years. While the budget proposal serves only as a recommendation to the legislature, it does help shape debate and heavily influences committee work.
First and foremost, with such a massive budget proposal, there are bound to be things in here that I support. For instance, Governor Walz included funding to help with staffing levels at our state prisons. You may recall that there were a number of incidents over the past year at our state prisons that saw guards assaulted by inmates. Sadly, a guard was killed in one of these incidents at the Stillwater prison.
The governor’s proposal would increase staffing levels to improve security at prison facilities for inmates and staff alike. With the Faribault prison in our community, I am hopeful that we can secure this needed funding to help make sure that prison employees are as safe as possible.
With that said, Governor Walz’s budget ultimately misses the mark as it would tax and spend Minnesota into oblivion. His proposal totals $49.471 billion in spending for 2020-2021. This is a $3.922 billion increase from the last state budget that was approved in 2017.
In addition to an eye-popping bottom-line, the governor’s budget would raise the cost of gas, health care, and many other goods and services Minnesotans rely on. In total, it raises taxes by more than $3 billion over the next two years at a time when Minnesota has a $1.5 billion budget surplus.
Included in the tax increases is a massive 70% increase in the gas tax that would vault Minnesota to #4 in the nation—we are currently middle of the pack. This regressive tax hits low and middle-income families hardest and will increase the cost of goods and services as well.
Governor Walz is also proposing an increase to license tab fees, the motor vehicle sales tax, and to reinstate the provider tax which would add more than a billion dollars to the cost of health care over the next two years. Simply put, you don't lower health care costs by increasing health care taxes.
As you can see, while there are some things in the Walz budget that are worth supporting, overall the plan misses the mark and would make life in Minnesota more expensive for everyday families trying to make ends meet.
I will continue to advocate for additional tax relief for Minnesotans, especially at a time when the state has a $1.5 billion budget surplus.
That’s all for this week’s update. Please be sure to contact me to share any questions or concerns you may have about anything related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-8237 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be great to speak with you!
Have a great weekend,