It has been great to speak with so many of my neighbors in District 20A over the past month. In our conversations, two main concerns emerged. Namely, the impacts of Gov. Tim Walz’s budget proposal and getting all kids back in school.

A few weeks ago, Gov. Walz released his $52.4 billion budget proposal. The governor is required under Minnesota law to submit his proposed budget for the biennium, but it is ultimately up to the Legislature to pass it.

As a fiscal conservative, I want a final budget that reflects government’s share in the sacrifices our families and businesses have made over the past year. In its current form, this budget does not accomplish that goal.

What did Gov. Walz include? A 15% increase on Minnesota’s corporate tax rate that, if enacted, would give our state the second highest business tax rate in the nation. He also proposed a 10% hike on the top income tax bracket, creating a fifth tier, and giving Minnesota the third highest income tax rate in the country.

Despite instances that this budget proposal only impacts the wealthy, that is simply not the case. Of the total $1.7 billion proposed tax increases, $941 million are regressive taxes which will impact Minnesotans at every income level. Take the impact of the 15% increase on the corporate tax rate, for example. Businesses don’t pay taxes; they pass the extra expense on to the consumer in terms of higher prices and on to workers in terms of lower wages.

Just last week, Minnesota Management and Budget’s January revenue report showed that tax collections were greater than expected by $296 million. For the fiscal year to date, Minnesota’s receipts are $459 million above what was forecasted. This is a strong indication that we do not need to raise taxes. Minnesotans cannot afford $941 million in regressive taxes, especially as we recover from the pandemic and shutdowns. Instead, we need to rein in spending and balance the budget without harmful tax hikes.

For so many in our community, elementary students are back to in-person learning full time. This is an incredible achievement and a great testament to the hard work of our school board, administrators, teachers, and parents.

Across the state, more work needs to be done to get all elementary and secondary students back in the classroom. Distance learning is taking a toll on students and families in terms of academic achievement and mental health.

The science and data show that we can get all kids safely back in the classroom. House Republicans introduced a bill last Thursday that would remove Gov. Walz’s ability to make unilateral decisions about in-person learning and empower school districts to work with parents, administrators, and teachers in determining what is best for their communities.

As this pandemic drags on, we all need hope for a swift return to normal. I will continue to fight against raising taxes and push to get all kids back in school.

Brian Pfarr is representative for District 20A, including Le Sueur County, in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Reach him at rep.brian.pfarr@house.mn or 651-296-7065.

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