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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Greg Boe (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Boe

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

After adjourning the regular session without the passage of a new, two-year state budget, the legislature convened for a one-day special session to fund our state government. I would have liked to see greater compromise and common-sense down the stretch, in order to avoid a special session altogether. I'm disappointed a special session was required, especially because it seems like proposed tax increases were many of the major holdups that made it necessary.

The governor last week signed into law the budget bills that were approved in both the House and Senate during the special session. Thankfully, the overall budget the Governor signed does not include the totality of the proposed $12 Billion in tax increases that the Governor and Democrats pushed for all session, including the much-talked about 20-cent per gallon gas tax hike – a 70% increase.

I was pleased with many of the outcomes this year, as there were a number of good things that became law. Both parties worked past stark differences to compromise on a budget agreement, and I appreciate the Governor giving up some of the worst and most controversial pieces of his plan. In the end, we avoided many of the policies this year that I believe were most problematic.

Notable positives from 2019 include:

  • No Gas Tax: We prevented all of the proposed transportation tax increases, including the 70 percent increase to the gas tax, vehicle sales tax, and license tab fees.
    • The auto parts sales tax revenue that the state is already collecting will continue to be dedicated to roads and bridges, as I believe it should be. This fund provides our state with the money we need to fund safe and efficient transportation infrastructure. Higher gas taxes were never necessary to fund our transportation priorities.
  • No Nursing Home Cuts: The proposals to cut $68 million from nursing homes will not become law. These cuts would have devastated budgets for local nursing facilities and harmed care for aging Minnesotans.
  • First income tax rate cut in 20 years: The final tax bill actually lowered the second-tier rate from 7.05% to 6.8%, allowing many Minnesotans to keep more of their hard-earned money. This historic rate reduction, along with federal tax conformity, will provide more money in people's pockets and fewer headaches next tax season.
  • Continuation of Reinsurance: The final budget extends reinsurance for two years, continuing a program that has proven to lower insurance rates for Minnesota families each of the past two years.
  • Education Funding: Public schools will receive a per-pupil funding increase of two percent in each of the next two years. The legislature also approved $90 million to help cover the rising costs of special education and provides districts with funding for safety enhancements.

Sick Tax

On the other hand, I’m disappointed that the so-called “sick tax” – a tax on nearly all healthcare services in Minnesota – will be continued and not phased out. This 2% tax was slated to sunset at the end 2019, but instead, its reinstatement is projected to add around $2 Billion to the cost of Minnesotans’ healthcare. Ultimately, the sick tax makes our healthcare more expensive, while disproportionately hurting those who go to the doctor the most.

Projects for Carver County

I authored legislation this year seeking to provide funding for two important local projects. One would have provided funding for the City of Chanhassen to help with upgrades to a 1.5 mile stretch of Lyman Boulevard (east of Highway 41, between Peavey Road and Galpin Boulevard), and the other would have provided funding to help Carver County construct the infrastructure and amenities necessary to develop Lake Waconia Regional Park.

I pushed hard for these bills this year, and worked with people on both sides of the aisle to gather the necessary support. However, because the legislature didn’t pass a bonding bill, most local infrastructure projects like these didn’t receive any state funding this session. Next session is a non-budget year in which bonding will be a bigger focus, and I’m hopeful we can then put together a bonding bill to help local communities fund important infrastructure projects. When that time comes, I will continue advocating for important local projects, and I remain optimistic that we can secure the necessary funding.

Please Contact Me

Even though the legislative session is completed for this year, I would still enjoy meeting with you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. I encourage you to please contact me, to share any legislative questions or suggestions. I can be reached at 651-296-5066 or rep.greg.boe@house.mn.

Sincerely,

Greg

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