ST. PAUL — With only days remaining in the 2023 legislative session, the DFL is floating another tax increase to try to balance their budget. Despite a $17.5 billion surplus, the DFL has already proposed more than $10 billion in tax increases this session. The additional taxes are needed to fund an unprecedented 40 percent increase in state government that Democrats are proposing for the next two years.
“Minnesota has a $17.5 billion surplus, yet Democrats have refused this session to work with Republicans to restrain the growth of spending and return money to the taxpayers,” said Robbins. “As a member of the Tax Committee, I have been advocating all year to return the surplus so families and seniors can have some relief as they face rising costs for gas, groceries, and energy bills. It is shocking to see the Majority grow government by 40 percent and expect Minnesotans to pay for it through new tax increases. Minnesota is already one of the highest-taxed states in the country.”
While Democrats talked about tax relief last fall, their legislative actions have spoken louder than their campaign pledges. Among the Democrats’ broken tax relief promises:
- Eliminating the tax on Social Security. Despite nearly universal bipartisan agreement that we should eliminate the tax on Social Security for all of Minnesota’s senior citizens, that promise disappeared almost immediately after the Legislature gaveled into session in January. Recently, talks resumed on increasing the number of seniors who might qualify to be exempt from the tax, but both the Governor and DFL legislative leaders have said full elimination for all seniors is dead. Minnesota will remain only one of 11 states that still tax Social Security.
- Baby products. The Democrat-controlled Tax Conference Committee eliminated a Republican amendment that would have exempted baby products from sales tax. Diapers and formula are already exempt from sales tax and this would extend that exemption to all baby-related products, like strollers, car seats, cribs, etc. This sales tax exemption passed with broad bipartisan support and would provide meaningful tax relief for all parents as they expand their families. It would have been especially helpful for first-time parents who may be overwhelmed at the costs of bringing a baby home safely.
- Rebate checks. Following Senate Tax Chair Ann Rest’s comments about an “insatiable appetite to raise taxes”, it seems that Governor Walz’ promise to give rebate checks to Minnesotans has been rolled back significantly. Governor Walz began session by stating that he wanted $2,000 rebates sent to married couples making $150,000 or less and $1,000 checks sent to single filers making $75,000 or less each year. As it stands today, House and Senate Democrats are only offering $520 for the same joint filers and $260 for singles. Individuals making over $75,00 or couple making over $150,000 would not get any rebate.
- Gas tax increase? The Democrats found plenty of taxes and fees to raise in the transportation arena – including a 75-cent Metro Area sales tax for transit, an increase on license tab fees and an increase in the motor vehicle sales tax. Until this week, increasing the gas tax was supposed to be off the table. Now, in the waning hours of session, Democrats won’t rule out raising the gas tax by tying it to inflation, which would increase pressure on drivers who are already paying nearly $4 per gallon.
“Tax relief had bipartisan support on the campaign trail, so it is very disappointing to see Democrats raise $10 billion in taxes and fees to fund their excessive spending,” said Robbins. “Increasing the state budget by 40 percent over two years is not sustainable and will erase the surplus, leaving Minnesota with growing deficits, as we see in California. Family budgets haven’t increased by 40 percent, and they cannot afford it. The Tax Conference Committee is still working and I hope they prioritize tax relief and spending restraint so Minnesota’s economy can thrive.”