Guest Opinion: An assault on pocketbooks
As your state representative, it is my duty to make sure the interests of the Brainerd lakes area are heard loud and clear in St. Paul. A huge part of that is protecting you from onerous and excessive tax increases that cause real hardship for Greater Minnesota families.
Over the last few months, I've highlighted some of the proposals that are now making their way into final omnibus finance bills that are about to be heard on the floor of the House of Representatives.
With Democrats in control of the Minnesota House, we have seen an assault on the pocketbooks of every day Minnesotans. With thousands of families coming to the capital and sharing their concerns about the cost of living, I'm surprised that the new majority continues to push more than $12 billion in tax increases over the course of the next four years.
You read that right, across the entirety of their proposed state budget, House DFLers are seeking to make you, your neighbors, and every Minnesotan pay $12 billion more in taxes in the next four years.
Remember, these excessive tax increases are coming at a time when the state has a $1 billion budget surplus.
Top of mind for most folks is the 70% gas tax increase proposed by Governor Walz and House Democrats. Along with the gas tax are increases to boat registration taxes, vehicle sales taxes, and a large metro area sales tax increase.
In total, their transportation proposal seeks to raise taxes by $3.87 billion over four years. Further, their plan would raid funds that were set aside to fix roads and bridges last year through already existing sales tax from auto parts and rental and lease sales.
You may be asking yourself why such a massive tax increase is deemed necessary by the DFL. The answer is simple, to push more dollars into the general fund to spend on agency increases and more social services dollars.
In addition to transportation taxes, Democrats are looking to tax health care to the tune of $2.55 billion during the next four years by reinstating the provider tax. This is a tax levied on a variety of patient services including things like baby deliveries, chemotherapy treatments, routine doctor visits, emergency room visits, even visits to the dentist.
That's not all!
House DFLers are seeking to raise payroll taxes on both employees and employers by $2.075 billion to pay for their massive paid sick and family leave proposal.
While you'll likely hear from DFLers that their tax bill cuts taxes, the reality is that the hidden tax increases plus the increases on our businesses in the bill will raise consumer prices, reduce wages, and make it difficult for hard-working employers to invest in their employees and communities.
The taxes are extremely concerning, but in addition to taxes, there are a number of proposed fee increases as well. Most notable for our area are the dramatic increases to boat licensing fees I mentioned earlier.
In committee, I was able to convince the majority party into exempting nonprofits like Camp Confidence and small resorts but unfortunately, most of the dramatic increases remain in their bill. If these proposals become law, families in our area will be significantly impacted.
For example, if you were paying $90 for a three-year licensing fee, you would now pay $135.
Once again, when the state has a budget surplus and household median incomes remain stagnant, it is extremely frustrating that Democrats have reverted to their default position for everything—raise taxes and spend more money.
Minnesota taxpayers deserve better. They cannot afford a $12 billion tax increase. I will continue to fight for the lakes area and push back against Governor Walz and House Democrats "metro" centric agenda.