Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget

The Senate Tax Committee heard more than 90 minutes of mostly supportive testimony about Governor Walz’s tax budget proposal this week. The message was very clear: Minnesotans understand that responsible revenue will support investments to enable workers, families, and businesses to recover from the pandemic.

Two business groups and several tobacco lobbyists offered opposition, but 17 other individuals spoke about the beneficial investments that would be supported by asking millionaires to pay a bit more. The governor’s budget raises $1.66 billion in new revenue from extremely high earners currently paying a lower rate of tax than most Minnesotans. At least 99.3 percent of Minnesotans will not be affected by the tax increases – and at least one million will see a tax reduction.

The new revenue delivers:

  • $230 million in tax cuts for at least 1 million working families
  • Closes the $1.28 billion budget deficit
  • Bold investments to help Minnesota recover from the pandemic, including: supporting students and teachers, workforce training, small businesses, and long-term and emergency paid leave for employees needing to care for loved ones (see more here)

Particularly compelling testimony came from an SEIU health care worker and mother of a son with disabilities that requires 24-hour care. The caregivers that enable him to continue living in his home earn $13.25 an hour. The governor’s budget proposal uses some of the revenue raised from Minnesotans earning more than $20,000 each week to fund a $2-per-hour wage increase for these essential workers.

The governor’s budget is just a starting point and DFL Senators intend on fully vetting each proposal to ensure it is fiscally responsible and impactful. The concerns raised by those opposed to the bill have merit, but disregarding tax changes without considering the benefits that could be supported by them – better schools, a stronger workforce, targeted business tax relief – is not in the best interest of Minnesotans trying to launch a strong recovery from the last year of challenges.

A link to this hearing may be found on the Senate website by clicking on the Feb. 23 hearing, here. (SF 961).