Sen. Gene Dornink: We must prevent unnecessary burdens

Published 6:22 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

Friends and neighbors,

It is hard to imagine the possibility of raising taxes while Minnesotans recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, combating rising inflation and global economic uncertainty. While my Republican colleagues and I have proposed tax relief plans that keep more money in your pockets and eliminate the unfair double tax on social security income, the Democrat-controlled House has failed to act on the debt owed on Unemployment Insurance (UI) to the federal government.

Hundreds of thousands of hard-working Minnesotans relied on unemployment benefits to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families while navigating the uncertainty of forced business closures during the pandemic. Now employers across the state have received massive statements from the Department of Employment and Economic Development to refill the UI fund, whether they could keep employees on the payroll or not during pandemic lockdowns. We need to do the right thing, pay our debt, and prevent unnecessary burdens on all Minnesotans.

On Feb. 14, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation with strong bipartisan support to pay off the UI trust fund debt and interest owed to the federal government and replenish the trust fund. Every dollar from the UI trust fund went directly to employees. Passing this bill and taking care of the state’s responsibility to preserve and protect unemployment insurance without placing that burden on businesses, which would result in even higher prices on goods and services for hard-working families, was of utmost importance to me and my colleagues. Additionally, our small businesses and communities should not have to pay for a deficit that resulted from the Governor’s forced closures. We made a promise to refill this pot after the government drained it, and Senate Republicans have done our part to keep that promise.

The companion bill in the Minnesota House has been held up in the Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee since Feb. 7. On two occasions House Republicans made a motion to suspend the rules and bring the legislation to the House floor for a vote, and on both occasions, the democrat-controlled House voted against it. Even Gov. Tim Walz has said solving the UI trust fund problem is a critical issue.

With a historic $9.3 billion budget surplus, there is no excuse not to pay down this debt and prevent massive tax hikes to our main street businesses.

The state needs to fulfill its promise instead of putting its obligation on hard-working Minnesotans, who have faced almost three years of hardship. We’ve done our job in the Senate. Now it’s time for the Democrats in the House to roll up their sleeves and get this done.