By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/26/2019
Hello from the State Capitol,
We had many late night floor sessions this week as budget bills began arriving on the House floor. These are the proposals that would fund all areas of state government.
Interestingly, many of these proposals mirror what Governor Walz had proposed in his budget earlier this session. This week, the governor’s revenue department analyzed the tax increases that had been proposed. It was bad news for low and middle income Minnesotans.
This tax incidence report found that the governor’s tax changes would increase the tax burden for Minnesotans making less than $45,000 by double digit percentages. It would also raise taxes on Minnesotans of every income level. Minnesota’s tax code would also become more regressive because the proposals would significantly increase low and middle-income Minnesotans’ tax burdens much more than those with higher incomes.
These proposals include a 70% increase in the gas tax as well as raising taxes on Minnesotan’s health care. Not included in the study is paid leave legislation that has been proposed by House majority, which would cost taxpayers another $1.6 billion over four years.
In the face of a $1 billion surplus, there’s no need to raise anyone’s taxes.
One of those bills, the health and human services finance bill, weighed in at twelve pounds and more than 1,100 pages.
In short, it will raise health care costs, cut funding for nursing homes, and allow rampant fraud to continue.
Included is an extension of the provider tax – also known as the sick tax because everyone that makes a doctor’s visit pays it – that adds more than $2 billion to the cost of Minnesotans’ health care over the next four years.
We attempted to make this bill better. For example, I supported 3 separate proposals that aimed at exempting cancer treatments, diabetes treatments, and pregnancy care from being taxed with their continuation of the sick tax. The House majority voted all of them down on party line votes.
The bill also cuts nursing home funding by $68 million due to changes in reimbursement rates, and did little to tackle fraud that’s been found in public programs like the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
While, as you’d expect, the largest omnibus bill in the history of the Minnesota House did have some good provisions, the bad far outweighed the good in my opinion.
More omnibus bill will be debated in the days ahead.
Last weekend I was pleased to help plant some trees in Hastings at Riverwood Park in honor of Arbor Day.
I also joined thousands of other bikers and riders in taking part in the Flood Run, which benefits Gillette Children’s Hospital.
I had fewer visitors this week as we have been on the House floor by 9:00 AM and don’t finish until close to midnight every day, but I stepped out of the House chamber for a few minutes to visit with Dakota County Technical College students and faculty who stopped by for a Capitol visit. Thanks for coming!
Have a great weekend,
Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155