Letter: Senate budget bills have no tax increasesThe passage of all 10 of the Senate budget bills over the last two weeks means that Senate Republicans have a completed plan for funding the 2012-2013 state government without raising taxes on Minnesotans.
By: Dist. 22 Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, Worthington Daily Globe
The Senate bills provide for a $34 billion biennial budget — a 13 percent reduction in projected, automatic spending — that stabilizes the runaway, out-of-control growth of government.
Under the budget passed by the previous legislature, projected auto-pilot spending at the rate of 29 percent would translate to a $39 billion budget for this biennium. Gov. Mark Dayton requested about $37 billion in general fund spending using huge tax increases to fund the gap, but less than half his plan has been introduced in the Legislature by members of his own party. Legislative votes on the governor’s income tax increase were met with bipartisan opposition.
Gov. Dayton wants to raise taxes and increase government growth and government spending at an unsustainable pace. Current government spending outpaces available revenue by 3:1, and that gap is getting wider and wider. The rate of auto-pilot increases in government spending in real dollars for the next biennium is nearly 30 percent. Government in the 21st century is full of challenges. We have the tools and the political environment to change the way government does business, rebuild public trust and transform this state for a strong economic future.
The Senate budget bills balance the budget while protecting essential services, prioritizing government spending, reforming government operations and, most importantly, do not raise a single dollar of taxes on Minnesotans.
You can review all spending recommendations in detail on the Senate website at: http://www.senate.mn/departments/caucus_budget_recommendation.php?ls
Tax relief bill passed: The Senate passed the omnibus tax bill, which made $780 million in spending reductions and provided $200 million in tax relief to home and business owners, farmers and veterans. The measure has zero tax increases and moves Minnesota toward a more competitive business climate by lowering business property taxes for all.
The measure gives property tax relief through increases in homeowners’ property tax refund program and lowering the statewide business property tax, eventually phasing it out. It gives financial encouragement to local governments to consolidate and innovate, consequently limiting government and lowering taxpayer costs and reliance on state subsidies. Local government aid (LGA) payments from the state are held flat at 2010 funding levels.
The Senate tax bill restores the principle of limited government and reduces the footprint of state government programming. It promotes the consolidation of municipal governments because we currently have more government than we can afford.
Transportation bill maps out funding: Providing and maintaining a public highway system and infrastructure is a constitutional obligation, and the funding mechanism which draws from both state and federal sources is often complicated. Last week the Senate passed a $4.69 billion biennial funding bill, $139.1 million of this total comes from the state general fund. Reductions from projected spending protect services to the elderly and disabled, and limit the impact to rural service providers. The measure is a 22.8 percent reduction from projected spending.
The bill includes up to $100 million for a newly created Trunk Highway Economic Development Account in the Trunk Highway Fund to promote economic development, relieve traffic congestion and increase employment. The account attaches transportation dollars to economic development in Minnesota by calling for an even distribution of funds to metro and Greater Minnesota communities, and allows us to respond to and take advantage of economic development and job-creation opportunities throughout our state.
* Based on recent action in the House on budget bills, we are likely to see more conference committees begin meeting.
* The HHS committee was to hear a bill sponsored by Senator Chris Gerlach, the Nurse Licensure Compact, on Monday.
* The State Government Innovation & Veterans Committee was to hear Senator Warren Limmer’s photo ID bill on Monday.
* The Subcommittee on Redistricting was to have an overview of the Voting Rights Act during its meeting on Monday.
* The HHS committee will hear a presentation about Health Insurance Exchanges today.