At 12 a.m. Monday, the 2013 Minnesota Legislature closed the books on the 2013 session. While Minnesotans sent us to the State Capitol in St. Paul to complete a balanced budget, a fair and balanced approach is not how I would describe the outcome. Like a bad student cramming before a huge exam, the House and Senate Democrats saved nearly every major budget bill for the very last minute. After the dust settles, all Minnesotans will end up paying more than $2 billion more in taxes for the largest budget in state history.
The new taxes will fall on top of the $36 billion the state has already collected in order to fund government functions over the next two years. Compared to other states with similar populations, Minnesota’s spending has exploded over the last two decades, and our income tax rates will now be number four in the U.S., aligning us with fiscally dysfunctional states such as California.
Where is this money going? That’s a good question. Since 2011, the state’s fiscal situation has been restored and a gigantic budget deficit nearly erased. The deficit could be completely eliminated in the next few months if our recent economic growth continues. The tax increases used to “close the deficit” are actually around six times larger than our current shortfall.
Your money is being spent on growing our state bureaucracy, adding more than 1,000 new state workers who will regulate more of our lives, from the content teachers cover in the classroom to health insurance we buy for our families.
I can report one positive from this session. The Minneapolis Veterans Home, a project I have supported for several years, will receive additional funds to complete a renovation and addition. There are thousands of veterans in Minnesota in need of care facilities, and this is a step in the right direction.
Other divisive issues were also made a priority this session over the budget, which I was disappointed to see. The legislature changed the definition of marriage and also authorized a procedure to unionize home child care providers and collect dues from them. All of this was done before a final budget was completed. In fact, the budget deliberations went all the way to the legal deadline of midnight Monday in a rushed tone with little thought. The people deserve better than the way things were handled this year.
I hope to share more with you about our work this session in the coming weeks and throughout the interim. Please stay in touch with your questions and comments, I look forward to hearing from you.
Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake, represents District 39A in the state House of Representatives. Contact him at 651-296-4124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.