The Minnesota Management & Budget Office released a memoyesterday stating that the state brought in an additional $252 Million more in revenue than projected for the month of April. Revenues are usually high in April due to the tax deadline, but the $2.453 Billion total was 11% more that what was projected in the February forecast used by the Governor and the Legislature in determining budget resources for the legislative session.
Minnesota currently has a fully funded 2-year budget. So any extra revenues by the government signifies that Minnesotans have been overtaxed. Governor Dayton will likely use this report to call for funding of his largest priority: fixing the financial insolvency of several Minnesota school districts.
The big question is what will the Republican legislature do with these numbers? Common sense would suggest that they give all back to Minnesota taxpayers. The tax cut bill in the House only has $107 Million in tax relief; they should make it $359 Million in tax cuts. But the track record of Speaker Daudt is to spend on more government. Contact your legislator today and tell him or her to give it back!
"It's for the children" claim the authors of a bill that passed the Minnesota Senate today. No one is denying that there is a problem in our society with the abuse of opiate drugs, but the Minnesota Senate today thinks government is the solution.
Sen Rosen's bill, SF730, creates a fee for manufacturers of opiate drugs, most commonly used for pain management. It also establishes a new government program tasked to solve the problem of abuse.
The problem with the bill is several fold. Government keeps adding more and more costs to the health care industry, thus creating ever rising prices. Assessing fees to drug companies will eventually be passed on to consumers. That affects anyone who may need to be prescribed pain medications for things ranging from post c-section surgery to chronic joint paint.
Furthermore, if creating government programs to combat drug abuse actually worked, then we wouldn't need to worry about meth, cocaine or heroine. Those drugs have billions of dollars of taxpayer money used to combat them.
Action 4 Liberty opposes increasing taxes and fees or growing the government bureaucracy. We scored the bill today.
A recent economic report indicated that Minnesota is facing a $329 Million budget surplus. The common sense thing to do with a surplus is to return it back to taxpayers who were overcharged. But the Minnesota Legislature has prioritized spending instead of tax cuts. The House wants to spend $222 Million of general funds revenue, while returning only $107 Million in tax relief. In the other chamber, the Senate wants to provide $168 Million in relief while keeping $161 Million in the hands of government.
But this is only a portion of the narrative. There's $58 Million in excess reserves for the Vikings Stadium Fund, that will likely grow to about $100 Million by the end of next year. The MN House wants to use that money for new Veterans homes in Preston, Montevideo and Bemidji.
On top of all that, the House and Senate have released the details of their debt bills (aka bonding). Both chambers want to add $825 Million of debt on the state credit card. These bills include funding for roads, bridges and other key infrastructure. But then add millions of dollars of pork to include:
- $95.4 Million to the University of Minnesota
- $6.5 Million to put solar panels on the University of Mankato and other renovations
- $3 Million for the Minnesota Zoo Garden!
- $1 Million for Amateur sports center in Blaine
- $2.5 Million dollar bus garage in Rochester
- $2 Million dollar pedestrian/Bike bridgein the city of Rogers (pop. 11,000)
- $10 Million to the unelected Met Council to build parks and trails as they want
- $2.5 Million to build facilities for a park on Lake Waconia
- $2 Million for swimming pool in New Hope
- $3 Million Nature Sanctuary Visitor Center
- $4.4 Million White Bear Lake trail around the White Bear Lake
- $18 Million for Brooklyn Park to build a food shelf
- $5 Million for Duluth trails
- $12 Million for Minneapolis to redevelop a Harbor Terminal for the public
- $4.4 Million community center in Perham (pop. 3,000)
- $3 Million for a food shelf in Crookston (pop. 7,900)
- $5 Million St. Paul River Centre parking lot
- $5.5 Million Southeast Asian Language Job Training Facility
- $8.1 Million for Wabasha to expand the Eagle Center
- $5 Million dollar open air stage in Waite Park
- $18 Million to renovate one visitor building (#18) in Fort Snelling
- $26 Million for airports
- $18 Million to expand remote trails at some rural state parks
- $750,000 pedestrian bridge in Grand Rapids
- $6 Million St Paul MN Museum of American Art
- Tens of million in trails:
- $200k for a bluff lands trail by the Iowa border
- $2.5 Million for a Chester Woods trail outside Rochester
- $1.3 Million for a recreation area in Babbitt
- $2.5 Million for third part of a trail in La Crescent
Thanks to Washington County Watchdogs for digging into the details of the bill.
In totality, the fiscal record for the GOP when facing a $329 Million surplus is:
Keep in mind, all of the above spending figures are the GOP proposals. In the last week and a half of the session, Dayton will negotiate with the Legislature and the final numbers will likely be $400 - 600 Million higher.
The Minnesota Senate voted unanimously for a bill authored by Sen Jim Abeler (R-Anoka) that would expand regulations on the hotel industry. The bill, SF3637, requires "every person, firm, or corporation that operates a hotel or motel in Minnesota" to receive sex trafficking training "approved by the Commissioner" within 90 days of employment.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding new government regulations on the private sector, especially ones that increase the cost of doing business. Companies should be free to create and conduct their own sex trafficking training.
The bill also fails the constitutional test of "single subject" as it contains language about immunization documentation and reporting of autism spectrum. For these stated reasons, Action 4 Liberty scored the bill.
The Minnesota Senate passed their version of a federal tax conformity bill that reduces taxes by $168 Million for Minnesota taxpayers. The Senate took up the House tax bill and amended it to include their language which provides more tax relief. HF4385as amended by the Senate passed on a 34-32 vote.
Action 4 Liberty scored this bill favorably because it reduces the amount of resources that government takes out of the pockets of Minnesotans. However, we feel the Senate and House should have given back all $329 Million of the budget surplus instead of spending a large part of it.
The Minnesota House released its debt spending bill (also known as a bonding bill or "capitol investment" bill) today. On top of passing a massive $46 Billion budget last year, the largest in Minnesota's history, Republican legislators want to add $825 Million in debt on the state credit card.
Rep Dean Urdahl (R-18A) revealed HF4404this morning, highlighting the bill's intended purpose of maintaining "public infrastructure". The bill would issue debt on the backs of Minnesota taxpayers to fund several road projects, water treatment projects, public land acquisition by the DNR, a building for a private charity, money for the Minnesota zoo, money for higher education, money for a National Eagle Center, and much more.
Action 4 Liberty opposes adding debt to the state credit card. The good projects in the bill should be appropriated using general funds (money collected by the government through current revenue sources). We will score this bill and ask legislators to vote no.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota House passed the Health & Human Services and Transportation Omnibus bill (HF3138) on a vote of 82 to 43. The bill increases spending by $100 Million, taking up about one third of the projected budget surplus funds. The bill received overwhelming support from the Republican majority. Two Republicans broke ranks and voted against the bill: Rep Steve Drazkowski and Rep Jeremy Munson.
Action 4 Liberty was opposed to this bill and added the vote to mnscorecard.com. This bill is unconstitutional based on Article 4, Section 17's "single subject" rule. Furthermore, the state is currently operating under a two-year budget that fully funds government. A4L believes there is no need to spend a dime more. The budget surplus should be returned to taxpayers.
On Monday, the Minnesota House passed a bill that would conform Minnesota's tax laws to the federal tax cuts, thus providing $107 Million of tax relief to Minnesotans. Rep David's tax bill (HF4385) passed on vote of 90 to 38. If the Legislature didn't act, Minnesota taxpayers would face a nightmare come tax filing period next year when the Dept of Revenue would require a separate tax form to use as its basis for levying taxes.
We score bills positively that reduce the amount of resources that go to government coffers, instead staying in the hands of individuals and businesses. Action 4 Liberty would have liked to see the bill go further though. The state faces a $329 Million budget surplus, which we called for all of it to be returned to Minnesota taxpayers. This bill only accounts for a third of that amount.
On Thursday evening, the Minnesota Senate held a long floor session to debate the Omnibus Supplemental Budget Bill (SF3656). After passing a two-year budget bill last year that fully funded government, the Minnesota Senate voted for a massive garbage bill that grows spending using additional funds from the budget surplus. The bill which has multiple subjects in it, fails the constitutional test of "single subject" according to Article 4, Section 17.
Action 4 Liberty scored the vote, which came down to a strict party line vote. All Republicans voted for the spending bill.
Also, Sen Ron Latz introduced an amendment to the bill during debate that would've expanded regulations on private citizens who seek to transfer or sell firearms to other individuals. This extreme bill would require Minnesotans to keep record of transferring firearms for the purpose of hunting if an individual loans his firearm to another person for longer than 12 hours.
The Amendment was ruled "not germane" by the President of the Senate and Latz challenged the ruling. A "Yes" vote was in favor of the President's ruling and the right vote to take for liberty. Action 4 Liberty scored the vote.
The MN House just passed the Education Omnibus Spending bill (HF4328) that increases spending by $30 Million. Last year, the Legislature passed a two-year budget that fully funded state government, but Republicans decided to take the majority of the $329 Million surplus and spend it on more government. This bill was the first of many bills that will spend the surplus money.
Action 4 Liberty did appreciate the provisions in the bill that increase school safety, but wanted to see the funds re-appropriated from other areas of the budget that passed last year, instead of spending new money. Republicans campaigned on a platformof shrinking government. The entire budget surplus should have been returned to taxpayers, not spent .
Two Republican legislators, Rep Munson and Rep Drazkowski voted against the spending bill. All other votes against the bill came from DFL members who felt the spending wasn't enough. Action 4 Liberty scored this bill.