By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 5/11/2020
In February, Minnesota was looking at a projected $1.5 billion budget surplus. Weeks later, COVID-19 cases in Minnesota were discovered, and the governor issued executive orders for residents to stay at home and for “non-essential” businesses to close.
Since then we’ve had a $4 billion turnaround, as that $1.5 billion surplus has now become a nearly $2.5 billion budget deficit.
It’s really not a surprise, as I’ve been warning about this for weeks. The forecast showed that sales tax collections are down $1.3 billion, and individual income tax collections are down $1.65 billion. Minnesota unemployment claims stand at the highest rate since the Great Depression.
It’s predictable math when fewer people are working and have less money to spend – revenues are going to decline.
Moving forward, everyone at the Capitol needs to be a part of this solution. We can’t expect families and small businesses to shoulder all of this financial crisis. State government needs to be looking at its spending and find ways to curb it, because incoming revenues are drying up rapidly.
Of course, Minnesota will begin to crawl out of this mess once all businesses are allowed to safely re-open. When more people are earning a paycheck and spending their money on goods and services, statewide collections will rise.
Recently Governor Walz lifted some restrictions on doctors, dentists, and veterinarians to perform some elective surgeries and procedures. While this was a step in right direction, it doesn’t go far enough in some cases.
Throughout this process, I’ve been working with Hastings business owners. They have sought clarity as to whether or not they can remain open and what functions they can perform. I have sent numerous questions, requests, and safety operational plans to the Governor’s Office on their behalf as they try to get back on their feet.
Recently I contacted them to reiterate the importance of giving bars and restaurants lead time for reordering food and beverage. Whether they are ordered to stay closed or not, they deserve to know so they can properly plan.
Lately I’ve been working with a number of dentists who have developed plans to keep their patients and employees safe, and are looking for the governor to allow them to-reopen. Hopefully we’ll hear some positive news in the coming days, as most of them are struggling right now and have no cash flow. We have to find a way to safely get them back to work as well.
GRADUATION CEREMONIES CANCELED
On Friday the Governor’s Office released guidance banning graduation ceremonies statewide, regardless of class size or space available for the ceremony. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.
I heard from countless parents over the weekend who were upset with the administration’s decision, and I joined dozens of other lawmakers in writing a letter to the Governor’s Office Monday urging reconsideration of the move. To me it’s unfortunate the administration doesn’t trust local school officials to act safely and responsibly when planning a ceremony for our graduating senior students, and it’s clear a lot of local parents share my frustration.
If you are the parent or grandparent of a high school graduate and would like your student to receive a personalized congratulatory letter, I would be happy to write one to them. Please contact me at email@example.com. Otherwise, due to district policies, we can only send “Dear Graduate” letters.
NATIONAL GUARD FLYOVER HONORS FRONT LINE WORKERS
On Wednesday, I visited to Hastings Veterans Home to see the breathtaking Minnesota National Guard 148th Fighter Wing F-16 jets and 133rd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules fly over Hastings to honor those working on the front lines to fight COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of spectators were on hand, and we were also entertained by two soaring bald eagles before the flyover.
Representative Tony Jurgens
351 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155