Peggy Bennett: Democrats’ tax proposals hindering progress

Published 6:38 pm Friday, May 10, 2019

Capitol Comments by Peggy Bennett

Peggy Bennett


As a teacher for 33 years, I gained a lot of patience working with first graders. That is coming in handy right now at the state Legislature, as budget discussions at the Capitol are very frustrating.

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We are more than one week into negotiations on budget targets — not a finalized budget — but an agreement on the total amount that is going to be spent on state government programs over the next two years.

As of this writing, House Democratic leadership and Gov. Walz have refused to compromise one penny from their proposed $12 billion in tax increases.

With a $1 billion state budget surplus, I find this mind-boggling and, quite frankly, very unreasonable.

A surplus is proof that the taxpayers are already paying too much to their state government. So why then should Minnesota taxpayers shoulder the burden of paying more taxes?

I believe a tax increase in times of a budget surplus is not fair to taxpayers — and a $12 billion tax increase is simply unreasonable. To top it all off, Gov. Walz’s own administration found that the plan would hit low and middle income families the hardest. Along with the 20-cent per gallon gas tax increase, the budget also increases health care costs. Inexplicably, it also funds a pay raise for lawmakers and cuts $68 million from nursing homes.

Included in the bloated budget are wasteful spending items like $6 million to create and operate a new Minnesota outdoor recreation office. This week we also learned that you, the taxpayer, are spending $7 million for an interstate rest-stop bathroom with Brazilian wood and curved glass which is already seven months past its projected completion date.

Yet they want you to pay more with a $12 billion tax increase? Is this reasonable?

Hopefully a compromise budget plan that will be worked out by House and Senate negotiators will be more reasonable and it will be something I can support. But we have to get our budget targets first, and that’s going to require the Democrats stepping away from their $12 billion tax increase platform.

Let’s take care of our shared priorities like roads and bridges, education, and caring for the most vulnerable Minnesotans. We have plenty of money to fund our state priorities without raising your taxes!

State Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, represents Minnesota House District 27A, which includes almost all of Freeborn County, along with parts of Faribault, Mower, Steele and Dodge counties. She can be reached by phone at 651-296-8216 or by email at rep.