By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/7/2020
Hello from St. Paul,
As we enter another week under the Governor’s stay-at-home order, I want to share with you some of the latest news from the Capitol.
WORKERS COMPENSATION BILL APPROVED
On Tuesday, the Minnesota House approved a workers’ compensation bill to protect first responders. It is the product of the Workers Compensation Advisory Council which includes members from both business and labor.
We’ve heard a lot from workers on the front lines regarding workers comp and a presumption that positive COVID-19 tests can be job related, so I’m pleased Republicans and Democrats were able to come together and help them.
It’s unfortunate that at least one local lawmaker has been using this worldwide pandemic to take opportunistic partisan shots in an election year. I think Minnesotans, and the people of this district, expect better and deserve to see us work together in a bipartisan manner. As expected, we did that by taking care of the first responders and health professionals that are protecting us and keeping us safer.
PROJECTED BUDGET SURPLUS: IT’S GONE
I want to be clear about the state’s budget. First, there is no longer a budget surplus. Just a short few weeks ago, we were talking about a projected budget surplus of more than $1.5 billion. It’s important to note this was projected and was based on state spending levels as well as revenue collections from state income and sales taxes.
The COVID-19 response is causing far greater spending and is severely impacting tax revenue, therefore the budget surplus that was projected is gone, budget reserves will be needed in the future and we might still face a deficit.
It’s common sense, really. If some businesses are forced to close due to executive action and thousands of residents are forced to go on unemployment, income and sales tax collections are obviously going to drop dramatically. Meanwhile, overall state spending has not been lowered, yet the revenue collections needed to support that level of spending are no longer there.
This is why it’s important for us to immediately identify areas where Minnesota can limit non-essential spending.
In my next update, I’ll share with you some information I’ve heard from our school districts, as well as local businesses I’ve tried to help that are now facing unforeseen challenges and are looking for answers.
Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155