On November 23rd, House Republicans sent a letter to Governor Walz requesting the use of all remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds and additional general fund dollars to provide a $1.3 billion dollar tax cut to Minnesota employers on their unemployment insurance obligations. The letter also recommends a policy to “Enhance UI fraud prevention measures within the Department of Employment and Economic Development.”
In response, Senator Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis), Senator Jen McEwen (DFL-Duluth), Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), Senator John Marty (DFL-Roseville), Senator Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan), Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton), and Senator Ann Johnson Stewart (DFL-Wayzata) issued the following statement:
“Minnesotans work hard and take pride in their work. As a result, many businesses operate here and earn enormous profits from the labor of Minnesotans. One of the responsibilities of doing business in Minnesota is to pay into our unemployment insurance system. This is our last line of defense against a surge in poverty when times are tough such as during a global pandemic.
“The COVID-19 crisis created a surge in unemployment claims. The availability of unemployment insurance kept Minnesotans from becoming economically destitute through sudden loss of work.
“Instead of making the fiscally responsible decision to require employers to pay their fair share, House Republicans are making the unconscionable ask that Minnesotans sacrifice our remaining American Rescue Plan dollars and then some to give profitable corporations a tax cut, including those businesses which earned record-breaking profits throughout the course of the pandemic.
“These funds are meant for our recovery, not to enhance corporate profits. As a legislature, we still have yet to come together to provide compensation to essential workers for the risks they took when they kept our state livable during the worst months of COVID-19. As COVID-19 rates reach alarming heights in our state, and with the discovery of the new Omicron variant, it is all too likely that we will encounter further COVID-19 related expenses in the near future.
“House Republicans cynically suggest that more ‘fraud prevention’ would help solve the problem. Rather than making it even harder for workers to claim their earned benefits, we should prioritize closing the tax-gap in our state and asking our most profitable companies to pay their fair share.”