Sen. Gene Dornink: Democrats look to increase taxes, ignore the true needs of Minnesotans

Published 6:50 pm Friday, May 12, 2023

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Friends and neighbors,

 During the past weeks, the Senate voted on each of the Democrats’ budget bills. Since the budget bills passed by the Senate differed from the versions passed by the House, they were sent to conference committee, where members of each chamber are tasked with coming up with a compromise.

 A prevailing theme has emerged in each of the Democrats’ budget bills: spending. They have put our state’s massive $19 billion budget surplus towards more spending, increasing taxes and fees along the way. The Senate Democrats’ tax bill is representative of their priorities.

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 Democrats claim it is Minnesota’s “biggest tax cut ever,” but in reality, it will significantly raise taxes. The legislation includes a massive $1.2 billion tax increase. In a time of historic surplus, we should be looking for meaningful ways to give this money back to taxpayers, not impose new tax increases.

 Absent from the Senate Democrats’ tax bill is the full elimination of the tax on Social Security income. Senate Republicans have been clear that we strongly support ending this burdensome tax, and this session, we have more than enough money to do just that. If a clean repeal of this tax would have been brought up, all 33 Republican senators would have voted yes. Instead, Democrats broke their campaign promise and tied the elimination of the Social Security tax to more tax increases for Minnesotans.

 Instead of providing financial relief to Minnesota retirees, Democrats prioritized their extreme spending habits. When the Democrat tax agreement comes back from conference committee, I suspect it will do even less to support Minnesotans.

 Additionally, the Democrats’ Housing budget agreement was recently approved by the Senate and will now go to the governor for his signature. This agreement spends more than $1 billion on a variety of feel-good housing programs, but it fails to address the root causes of the current housing crisis. The bill, which spends more than eight times the previous housing budget, does little to tackle the shortage of 95,000 available housing units and does nothing to reduce the burdensome regulations driving up prices. 

 Specifically, this legislation includes a $745 million metro sales tax increase on Minnesotans – part of the nearly $10 billion in tax hikes proposed by Democrats this year. This is another reminder that even with a historic budget, Democrats still want to tax Minnesotans even more.

 In addition to the massive tax increase, the Democrat housing agreement spends $92 million to create a new rental assistance program in the vein of the troubled and controversial RentHelpMN program. RentHelpMN was recently the subject of an audit, which found rampant fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. When something doesn’t work, Minnesota Democrats double down. We should be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, not funneling millions more into programs with waste and mismanagement.

 Senate Democrats also forced through legislation that takes a controversial approach to paid family and medical leave. This legislation creates a massive new government entity to manage this program, requiring hundreds of new employees. Under this proposal, every worker and employer will face a tax hike that is expected to be at least $1.5 billion for the first year of the program, with increasing costs every year afterward.

 I strongly support expanding Minnesotans’ access to paid family and medical leave. However, more government bureaucracy, at the expense of hard-working Minnesota taxpayers, is absolutely the wrong approach. Minnesota workers and businesses should have the flexibility to tailor this benefit to their unique needs. My Republican colleagues and I advocated for a private market approach that would not create more bureaucracy, raise taxes, or force inequitable mandates on employers. Democrats, however, would not move off their one-size-fits-all approach to paid family and medical leave.

 In short, we have a massive surplus, but it is not enough to support Democrats’ extreme spending habits. To make up for the shortfall, they’re raising taxes and refusing to return taxpayer money to the people. It is disappointing to see.