At What Point Are Republicans to Blame for High Taxes?
The chatter at the Minnesota Capitol as the Legislature reconvenes from its Easter break is that Republicans and Democrats are nowhere close to bridging the $2 Billion gap between the Senate Republican budget and Governor Walz. For those only consuming the mainstream media narrative, it would appear this gap is worlds apart. We know otherwise.
Both the Republican Senate and Governor Walz have proposed to grow state spending tremendously and eat up the vast majority of the $4 Billion projected budget surplus. Both Republicans and Democrats want to tax Minnesotans more when it comes to prescription opiod drugs. Walz takes things a step further by wanting to increase the gas tax by 70 percent and keep the health provider tax that is paid by sick Minnesotans. When it comes to new taxes, Senate Republicans score better than Walz.
However, we've been involved at the Capitol long enough to see many of these same Senators deal with a DFL majority in 2013 who massively increased taxes on top wage earners and create a fourth income tax bracket. The 2013 Democrat tax bill brings in billions of new revenue to the state government each biennium which now Republicans and Democrats alike incorporate into their spending proposals. Since the tax went into effect, the Republican Senate has never proposed eliminating or even shrinking the new tax bracket the DFL created.
Minnesota is ranked the "least tax friendly state" by Kiplinger. At what point do Senate Republicans get blamed for these high taxes? Imagine you run a business and the former CEO enacted a wasteful company-wide green energy program funded by its employees. If you continued spending the money each fiscal year after you took over, wouldn't you share blame for not ending the program and removing the financial burden on your employees?
Senate Republicans should be proposing a budget that shrinks the size and scope of government and eliminates the taxes created by Democrats. If we really want to fight against the liberal agenda, then we must go on the offense when it comes to taxes and spending.
The Government Wants to Track Our Miles
Legislators started the 2019 session facing a massive $4 Billion budget surplus. But that didn't stop them from wanting to increase taxes on regular Minnesotans at the pump. Governor Walz laid out his proposal in February to increase the gas tax by a whopping 70%, or another 20 cents per gallon. This would equate to nearly $300 for the average family in Minnesota.
Since cars are becoming more fuel efficient and every day there are more electric vehicles hitting our roads, Rep Raymond Dehn (DFL - Minneapolis) has a different idea: tax people on their mileage. Dehn introduced a bill (HF 1146) that authorizes MnDOT to conduct a study on phasing in a mileage tax to the current system of automobile taxation.
But how will the government know how many miles we've driven?
According to Rep Dehn, since we all use smart phones, all that is needed is a GPS transponder that's plugged into our vehicle that can talk to an app on our phone. This would communicate our mileage to the government and come back to us in the form of a tax bill.
Rep Dehn assures privacy advocates that the data would be kept private for only tax purposes. Although, like most other privacy invasions by government, once a program is established, its scope usually increases over the years as legislators take advantage of the government's new capabilities.
Action 4 Liberty strongly opposes this move for two important reasons. First, we are overtaxed in this state and see no reason to create new streams of revenue for the government. Secondly, personal privacy is something that must be protected at all costs. Government has no right to place devices in our vehicles to track our location or mileage.
Minnesota Legislature is on Easter Break
The Minnesota Legislature is currently on an Easter break and won't resume work until Monday, April 22nd. In the meantime, Minnesota taxpayers are safe from new taxes, more regulation and losing more of our freedoms.
So far the DFL House and Republican Senate have worked together to infringe on our freedom to use cellular devices in vehicles. The Legislature passed and Governor Walz signed into law the hands free bill giving police officers the right to pull us over and fine us $50 for the first infraction.
Still to come in this session is the major budget items that will determine where your tax money goes. Both the Republicans and Democrats want to grow government spending by a lot. Democrats want to create additional taxes like the 20 cents increase on the gas tax. Republicans and Democrats are on board for taxing sick people who need prescription pain medications via the Opiate bill.
Minnesota Democrats Introduce Green New Deal
Minnesota is already losing businesses every year due to our high tax/regulatory environment. Now a handful of Democrat legislators want to double down on making Minnesota the least desirable state for business. Today they launched their version of the Green New Deal (HF 2836).
According to the bill, the Green New Deal would work towards making Minnesota 100% carbon free in 11 years.
The bill also creates a Climate Change Advisory Council to "provide recommendations to improve Minnesota state government operations, functions, and policies to identify groups and individuals in need of assistance in adapting to climate change and develop programs to assist those groups and individuals."
Like its sister bill in the US Congress, the bill isn't likely to receive much support in the legislature because the vast majority of politicians are not as dumb as the policy-makers behind the absurd proposal.
Action 4 Liberty supports a 100% stupidity-free standard by May of 2019. Fossil fuels are a more efficient form of energy for our current economic demands. There is no scientific consensus on what the limiting of fossil fuels will do to future climate conditions. A policy as costly as this one should have a metric that can be used to measure its impact.
(We at Action 4 Liberty do not usually write articles in this style. But 100% carbon-free in 2030, c'mon!)
All Eyes on Senate Republicans to End Fraudulent Program
Minnesota Senate Republicans came out with a statement on Monday originally saying that they would freeze the fraudulent Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) starting in FY 2022 (see bottom of page). However, due to severe backlash from voters, the Senate Republican Caucus has adjusted its Facebook post to remove the 2 year grace period. It's unknown if this will translate into policy.
The Child Care Assistance Program is the subject of a recent Legislative Auditor reportwhich found fraud and horrible investigatory practices at the Dept of Human Services. A whistleblower from DHS asserts that over $100 Million of fraud exists in the program and some of that money is being channeled through Somali childcare centers and sent overseas to fund terrorism. In 2018, the program spent $254 Million of taxpayer money.
Action 4 Liberty calls for an end to the CCAP program. Republican Senators need to defund it now and save our tax money from fraud. It's also not the role of government to fund people's childcare. Our parents were able to raise us without government programs in place. Most likely the Republican Senate will fund the CCAP program in the last 48 hours of session in May in a thousand page Omnibus Bill. Tell them NO WAY!
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How Minnesota's Planned Parenthood Gets Your Money
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the state of Minnesota, receives your tax money every year for its operations. Although politicians will tell you the money doesn't go directly to funding abortion, its quite obvious that if the taxpayer revenue stream fell, Planned Parenthood would have less money to conduct the heinous procedure because other programs would require the remaining funding sources
A recent MCCL news release stated "In 2017, Planned Parenthood took in a record-high $560,895 in taxpayer money by performing a record-high 2,560 tax-funded abortions—a record-high 59 percent of all tax-funded abortions in the state. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a record-high 44 percent of total abortions occurring in Minnesota in 2017 were publicly funded."
Here's the interesting part. How is Planned Parenthood getting record taxpayer funding when Republicans were in control of both the House and Senate in Minnesota?
It turns out that the funding source comes from the massive Health & Human Services Omnibus Bill that your legislator most likely never read and was told to vote for by Republican leadership. In 2017, this bill passed with mostly Republican support in the two chambers (DFL legislator oppositions was due to them believing the spending bills were not big enough). Republican Reps Bahr, Drazkowski, Scott and Lucero voted against the bill.
Here's the Minnesota House vote:
And here's the Senate vote:
The 2017 HHS Omnibus bill (SF2) funded the Medical Assistance program which is the vehicle for Planned Parenthood to receive your tax money. Of course stripping this program out of the omnibus bill or adding a provision that restricted money going to Planned Parenthood would have created quite a heated battle with Governor Dayton. But can you think of a more worthy battle for your pro-life legislator to take on?
All heads now turn to Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Senate Republicans this session. Will they fight to stop our tax money from going to fund the state's largest abortion provider or will they once again keep the status quo like they did in 2017?
Action 4 Liberty opposes using taxpayer money to fund abortion provider Planned Parenthood. PP is a hyper-political organization that spends millions of dollars each election year to get Democrats elected.
Contact your legislator today and tell them to stop funding Planned Parenthood!
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Opioid Tax Bill Passes Minnesota Senate
A bill that would create a new government council and tax. HF400 establishes an Opioid Stewardship Fund in the state. The fund’s revenue would come from fees on manufacturers and wholesalers of opioid medication. Fees will be determined by the board of the Opioid Stewardship Fund based on its $20 Million annual budget.
HF 400 dictates how much opioid pain medication can be prescribed to patients following major trauma or surgery. The bill states “when used for the treatment of acute pain associated with a major trauma or surgical procedure, initial prescriptions for opiate or narcotic pain relievers listed in Schedules II through IV of section 152.02shall not exceed a seven-day supply.”
The bill also adds another mandated coverage to Minnesota health insurance plans. According to the bill, all “health plans must cover acupuncture services for the treatment of pain and ongoing pain management.”
The new tax was voted overwhelmingly by Republicans in the Minnesota Senate. It passed 59 - 6. Here's the vote:
Action 4 Liberty opposes this bill for several reasons. With rising health care costs in this country, this bill adds more costs that will inevitably pass on to consumers. Action 4 Liberty seeks to reduce mandates on health insurance plan coverage, but this bill increases mandates. Lastly, government should not get involved in the decision-making of prescribing pain medication from medical professionals.
State Budget Comparison Sheet
As March comes to an end, we finally know (sort of) where all the major players at the Capitol fall when it comes to the size and scope of government. On one end, Governor Walz who carries an incredible amount of weight in the negotiation battle that is soon to ensue, believes that our state government should grow to over $49.3 Billion and spend an additional $1.2 Billion in bonding debt. That budget only works by taxing us more, which is why he proposed keeping the sick tax and increasing the state gasoline tax.
Here's the STATE BUDGET COMPARISON
On the other end of the field are the four renegade Republicans who left the old Republican House Caucus to form the New House Republican Caucus (NHRC). Their budget actually shrinks spending by $300 Million, eliminates the tax on social security benefits and repeals the estate tax.
Here's where the major players are on the State Spending Football Field.
Here's where things get complicated. The Minnesota DFL House released their numbers but the devil is in the detail. Their total spending adds up to $47.8 Billion, which is the same amount as the GOP Senate and $1.5 Billion less than Governor Walz. However, they show a negative number on transportation and the elements of their tax bill are not known. The DFL House also plans to spend $1.6 Billion in debt spending. This could be where transportation spending is made up.
The Senate Republicans yesterday released their budget numbers which grow government from current spending of $45.5 Billion to $47.8 Billion. Surprisingly, they spend more on Health & Human Services than the DFL House. Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has made several statements that the Republican Senate is not raising any taxes in their budget, which contrasts them to both Walz and the DFL House. Although, their numbers show that they are eating up a large portion of the projected budget surplus with new spending.
Action 4 Liberty believes that state government is too large already. We've learned recently that a massive amount of fraud is carried out in the Dept of Human Services and politicians keep using more taxpayer money to pay for government health care programs. The correct course for Minnesota is to reduce the budget like the New House Republican Caucus suggests and let citizens keep their own money. If we want to shed our title as the "Least Tax Friendly State" in the county, we need to move in a different direction. It's time we become a Sanctuary State for Business!
Legislators Want to Create Islamaphobia Task Force
Three Democrat legislators introduced a bill (HF 2587) in the Minnesota House that would create a task force on islamaphobia and antisemitism. According to the bill it would be establish "a task force on the consequences of islamophobia and antisemitism [...] to analyze the impact of islamophobia and antisemitism, recommend actions to improve the safety of Minnesota's Muslim and Jewish communities, increase participation by the Muslim and Jewish communities in civic life, and recommend possible legislative action."
Membership of the task force would include the Attorney General, the Hennepin Co sheriff, the executive director of CAIR, the executive director of ISAIAH, a muslim state representative and a jewish state senator, amongst its long list of members.
The bill appropriates money for the task force, but as of the publication of this article, the dollar amount is not disclosed.
Action 4 Liberty opposes using taxpayer money for task forces, especially ones that seek to cater to a particular political agenda.
MN Senate Bans Use of Phones in Cars; Unless Wearing Hijab or Scarf
(Photo Credit: CBS)
The Republican led Minnesota Senate yesterday passed a bill (HF 50) to ban cell phone use in vehicles without a hands free device. This bill previous passed overwhelmingly in the Minnesota House. The bill aims to solve the problem of distracted driving according to its authors. But main opposition to the hands-free bill assert that distracted driving is already illegal and that the bill would not solve the underlying problem.
An interesting amendment authored by Bobby Joe Champion (DFL - Minneapolis) added language that provided an additional exception to using a phone while driving a vehicle. According to the amendment "the use of a scarf or hijab or other item of clothing to hold a device in a hands-free manner" is allowed under the new law.
Here's the vote for the amendment:
Here's the vote for the entire bill (which included the above amendment):
Action 4 Liberty opposes this bill because it limits individual freedom and increases government control. It’s not clear how the tens of thousands of Minnesotans who rely on mobile devices for commerce everyday will be able to continue activities such as ride-share services. The bill also seems to unequally harm lower income folks who do not drive vehicles with hands-free features. Adding language that excludes enforcement for people using a clothing device like a hijab, undermines the bill's intent to reduce distracted driving.