With only two months left in the legislative session, budget negotiations are beginning to pick up. I wanted to give you a brief update on where things stand.
Gov. Walz has proposed a $49 billion budget that raises the gas tax, tab fees, motor vehicle sales taxes, and more. He also raises $122 million in fees on things such as teacher licenses, school administrators, boating registrations, cross country ski passes, water permit fees, and more. Democrats in the House are pushing to raise income taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes.
Minnesotans can’t afford these tax hikes. When will it end? I have always been willing to work with my colleagues regardless of what party they belong to, but I can’t support a budget with so many regressive tax increases. The governor’s plan punishes the Minnesotans who can least afford it. I have received a lot of feedback from these folks who tell me they are being taxed out of the state.
You might wonder, “so what is your plan?” I’m glad you asked.
Recently Senate Republicans unveiled a budget that makes it easier for you to live your life by improving access, affordability, and accountability in the areas you care about most.
Here are some highlights:
- Transportation: Our plan provides over $8 billion for transportation over the next two years using existing revenue. This includes over $450 million of permanent, on-going funding that we infused into roads and bridges two years ago. You deserve access to clear, open road ways and hassle-free commutes. Best of all: our plan doesn’t raise your gas taxes or tab fees.
- Mental health: For as long as I have been in the Senate one of my top priorities has been mental health, especially for residents of greater Minnesota. Senate Republicans are renewing that commitment again this year with $25 million for mental health grants to a wide variety of populations. These grants will help everyone from farmers and greater Minnesota agriculture professionals to high school and college students, women with postpartum depression, veterans, and more. We are adding insurance coverage for mental health, so more people have access to the support they need.
- Education: Senate Republicans plan to invest $19.6 billion into K-12 schools to provide the best possible education to students across Minnesota and close Minnesota’s persistent achievement gap – an increase of $843 million from the last budget. In addition, we allocate $75 million for school safety, because you shouldn’t have to worry when you send your child to school.
- Child care: We will increase access to affordable child care throughout Minnesota by removing burdensome, unnecessary regulations and making it easier for providers to stay in business. Republicans will also shut down the child care assistance fraud scandal that is robbing Minnesota taxpayers of millions of dollars.
- Health insurance: Republicans have offered a series of reforms aimed at improving choice, access, and affordability in health care. We are eliminating prescription drug wasteful spending by curtailing the influence of pharmacy benefit managers who serve as just a middleman, and push for better transparency and accountability in drug pricing and hospital billing. We are also creating a new Direct Primary Care model, which allows you to get common medical treatments done without insurance getting involved. Direct Primary Care can include unlimited office visits, faster scheduling, more time spent with your doctor, and low, flat rates.