We participated in a Zoom call with Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) and the legislative leadership, Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller (R-28, Winona), Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen (DFL-49, Edina), House Minority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-46A, Golden Valley) and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-31A, Crown). Many question were asked about the shooting in Richfield and the underlying problems associated with gun violence.
To view the entire event on YouTube click here.
We asked the following:
C&B: Thank you, Dana. I appreciate this as a Hollywood Squares format, so I’m going to call on three of you. First Senator Miller, followed by majority leader Winkler since we don’t have speaker Hortman here and then Governor Walz.
Senator Miller, you’re proposing tax cuts in from a surplus of one-time money. And this is a tax expenditure style, which has resulted in structural deficits for multiple years, in fact, nearly a decade in 1999 afterwards. What do you have as a backfill to address any structural deficits? And there are two proposals, one being sportsbook or sports betting and the other recreational cannabis, which are both known could produce significant money and do in other states. Would you entertain either of these ways, or do you have another idea to backfill the deficit that you can potentially create?
Miller: Shawn, thanks for the question. Everyone’s talking about it. The state has a massive budget surplus $7.7 billion and growing all expectations are when the February forecast comes out. It’s going to be even larger than the $7.7 billion. When the state has this much money, Shawn it means one thing. The state is collecting too much money from the taxpayers.
Senate Republicans will propose permanent ongoing tax relief so Minnesotans have more money in their pocket every single paycheck week after week, month after month, year after year. And we feel that’s incredibly important, especially with record inflation. eating away at family budgets. We’d like to see Minnesotans have more money in their pocket every single paycheck. In addition to that, Shawn, Senate Republicans will propose the full elimination of the Social Security tax. We know senior citizens are living on a fixed income, also struggling with record inflation. We feel it’s important that they get tax relief. This year with the full exemption of the Social Security tax. And I will share with you that the tax proposal that we are working on will be structurally balanced.
Winkler: We are not proposing permanent ongoing tax cuts.
C&B: I know that but in regards to Senator Miller’s proposal.
Winkler: Well, we’ll have to see what Senator Miller proposes. He likes to say that all bonding bills have to start in the house, so to all tax bills, but somehow, I have a feeling that the Senate Republicans will come up with a tax bill sooner rather than later and it will be part of the negotiation strategy that we all are looking at this session. Obviously, there’s going to be given take on taxes and spending as part of this budget deal. And so, we’ll have to take a look at what Republicans want to do. And what we think we can afford.
Miller: Let me just be very clear on that. The final binding bill and the final tax bill we know have to originate in the House and pass through but just in case they can’t get a binding bill done or their tax bill isn’t robust enough. The Senate will have alternate solutions and proposals that we will put forward and as leader Winkler said he’s right. We do hope to come out early with these proposals because we want to get done early this session.
Walz: Shawn my, my proposal is to get the money back in the hands of Minnesota as quick as they can send them back some money. I think there is openness to look at, especially for the middle class. I will note that the surplus for many reasons why it’s there, but predominantly on revenues is we have a combination of less government spending. Some of that is of course due to the pandemic and we have record corporate profits. I will note there has not been a single tax raised on the middle class. So, when folks are out there spending more, and they’re spending that money and it’s collected by the corporation that that is not an over taxation that is simply that the economy grew in that direction.
With that being said, I do think we should balance this I want to be very clear about the Social Security proposal because I proposed raising the exemption of what’s in there. 60% of Minnesotans receiving Social Security don’t pay a tax on this. Under the Republican proposal. 90% of the tax savings would go to the 10% of the people at the top, the vast majority of Minnesotans receiving Social Security would not receive that benefit. So, raising the bottom up which we did last time, make sense because it’s fair eliminating this will give the most massive tax break to the very wealthiest Minnesotans who aren’t depending to live on Social Security.
There’s a reason that advocates for the aging like AARP and others do not advocate for this proposal because the money we collect from the Social Security on the top earners is used to enhance the quality of life making Minnesota an age friendly state. So, that’s the difference there. But, I’m open for us talking about some of this but I am not opening will not put us in a structural deficit over a one-time funding. I think there’s smarter ways to do it.