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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, April 26, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It’s been a busy week in St. Paul with long debates on the House floor as we passed major omnibus finance and policy bills. I have a lot to share this week as I give you a brief summary of these bills—most of which raise taxes and costs on Minnesotans making our state an even more expensive place to live.

K-12 Education

As a former teacher and the GOP lead on the Education Policy Committee, ensuring Minnesota’s students have access to a world-class education has long been a top priority of mine.

Sadly, this year’s education omnibus bill completely misses the mark and puts the needs and special interests ahead of our children.

The bill relies on a 70% gas tax increase and shifts totaling more than $400 million from road and bridge funding to meet the massive $900 million spending increase. Despite the funding increase, the bill also grows the funding disparity between Metro and Greater Minnesota schools by 4 percent.

In addition to issues with spending and a lack of innovation, the bill includes controversial policy measures adopted at the request of Democrats’ largest campaign backers—undermining bipartisan licensure reforms passed last session that were fiercely opposed by Education Minnesota and enact sexual education requirements backed and drafted by Planned Parenthood.

I am most disappointed by the DFL’s gutting of the teacher licensure reforms I worked so hard on last session. The changes the DFL is making in this bill will make it easier for ineffective teachers to earn the most accomplished licensure for teachers, thus rewarding poor performance with a five-year license.

These changes will lower standards, reward ineffective teachers, and close off pathways for teachers of color.

Finally, the bill removes automatic denial and revocation requirements for teachers convicted of fifth-degree domestic assault and Democrats also rejected an amendment to include stays of adjudication in education-related background studies, aimed at closing a dangerous loophole that previously allowed sex offenders to drive a school bus.

Minnesota students deserve better and I am hopeful that the Republican majority in the Senate will be able to hold the line on most of these spending and policy provisions during conference committee.

Jobs/Energy

With the Jobs and Energy omnibus bill, House DFLers are bringing the Green New Deal to Minnesota. Passed on Wednesday afternoon, the Jobs/Energy bill would raise billions of dollars in taxes by taking money out of every Minnesotans’ paycheck and includes extreme energy mandates that will drive up electric bills for Minnesota families while reducing the reliability of our energy grid. With such cold winters, Minnesota cannot afford to have an energy grid wholly reliable on wind or solar energy.

Health and Human Services

On Thursday, the House approved the Health and Human Services omnibus bill.

I voted against the bill because it increases health care costs by reinstating a billion dollar provider tax, makes harmful cuts to nursing homes that provide care to aging Minnesotans, and fails to prevent rampant fraud in Minnesota's childcare and other public programs. In fact, at more than 1100 pages, the bill is believed to be the largest bill in state history.

Taxes

Also taking place Thursday was the passage of the omnibus tax bill. The DFL’s tax bill raises $4 billion over the next four years with most taxes on businesses.

The taxes in this bill will increase consumer prices and reduce wages and benefits for employees.

This bill is just a portion of a broader push by Democrats to raise taxes on Minnesotans of all income levels. In fact, across the entirety of their budget proposal, Democrats are looking to raise taxes by more than $12 billion over the next four years.

Just this week, a tax incidence analysis from the Governor’s own administration found that the total tax increases, across all budget areas, will raise taxes on all income levels—making Minnesota’s tax code more regressive, hitting low-and-middle income Minnesotans hardest.

In fact, Minnesotans making less than $45,000 per year would see double-digit increases in their tax burden.

Such massive tax increases are especially inappropriate at a time when the state has a $1 billion budget surplus.

Staying in Touch

I will have more information for you on additional finance bills as we continue our work next week.

That’s all for this week’s update. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns regarding a matter related to state government. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email atrep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Sondra

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