I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. In between the barbecues and the family gatherings I hope you took a moment to remember the meaning behind the solemn holiday.

I come from a proud military family. My uncles served in Vietnam. My father and my father-in-law both served in Korea. My nephew serves in the Air Force. On Memorial Day (and every day), I am grateful for their service, and the service and sacrifice of the men and women who protect our freedom. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Update on the state budget

A couple of weeks ago, we announced the high-level details of a state budget compromise. This is the number one task for the year, and I am pleased with the progress that is taking place. We are working around the clock with our counterparts in the House and with the governor’s office to hammer out the final details of every budget area, and I am optimistic we will be able to lock everything up not long after we return for special session on June 14 — a special session that was already scheduled so Gov. Tim Walz could once again unilaterally extend his emergency powers related to COVID-19.

Even though specifics for each issue area are still being worked out, Minnesotans will be very pleased with some of the high-level details. I wanted to share two of those victories with you:

No tax increases

By far the biggest cause for celebration is that Democrats finally gave up on their drive for new tax increases. Both Gov. Walz and Democrats in the House had repeatedly and strongly pushed for significant tax hikes on working Minnesotans — more than $1 billion, in fact. Considering the billions of dollars in federal assistance we have received related to COVID-19, and the sizable state budget surplus, we are able to fund our priorities — and then some — without asking Minnesotans to pay more.

COVID-19 aid tax relief

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent business restrictions wreaked havoc on small businesses and workers throughout Minnesota. I can’t even count the number of heartbreaking stories I heard of multi-generational family businesses forced to permanently close through no fault of their own. Many more relied on emergency assistance in the form of forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans courtesy of the federal government. Even more workers depended on emergency pandemic unemployment insurance to make ends meet during the hardest times of the pandemic.

Everyone did everything asked of them. They played by the rules imposed on them and did everything possible to survive. To ask them to pay taxes on that emergency assistance, especially when many of them are still trying to recover, is simply cruel.

That’s why one of my top priorities all year has been exempting that aid from state taxes, just like it is exempted from federal taxes. I am proud to say Gov. Walz and House Democrats finally agreed with us. Paycheck Protection Program loans and pandemic unemployment will be exempted from state taxes in the final budget.

Contact me

If you ever have any questions or feedback, or if you would like to set up an opportunity to meet, contact me anytime. It is a privilege to serve you!

Mike Goggin, R-Red wing, represents District 21 in the Minnesota Senate. Reach him at 651-296-5612 or sen.mike.goggin@senate.mn.

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