Time for Tax Relief by Senator Jason Rarick
It was recently announced that Minnesota has a historic $17.5 billion surplus, which is clear evidence of the constant over-taxation Minnesotans are subjected to year after year. Minnesotans across the state have been loud and clear on the topic: they want tax relief, and they want their money back. Minnesota is already one of the highest-tax states in the country, and this number just further proves that point.
However, a few weeks ago, Senate Democrats brought forward a bill that factors inflation into the surplus, which means the total surplus number is artificially deflated. Minnesota actually has a surplus much closer to $19 billion. By factoring inflation into that number, $1.5 billion of taxpayer money is virtually lost and will then go straight to government agencies. I was against that bill for this exact reason—it stacks the deck in favor of the government, and lessens the oversight and accountability that taxpayers should have over their tax dollars.
In answer to the historic surplus, Republican legislators from the House and Senate came together to roll out a tax package that offers a two-pronged approach to tax relief: “immediate tax relief for today, and permanent tax relief for tomorrow.” The “Give It Back” tax plan provides $13 billion over two years in permanent tax cuts and one-time rebates. Minnesotans have been loud and clear—their taxes funded this surplus, and they want their money back. The first part of the plan focuses on immediate tax relief, providing an $1,800 tax credit per child under 18 for two years, and $5 billion in rebate checks to Minnesotans. The second part of the plan provides permanent tax relief, which includes the full elimination of the tax on Social Security, lowering of the first and second-tier rates by 1%, and property tax relief through increases in homestead market value exclusion.
For the last few years, we’ve been hearing from families all across Minnesota that the cost of living coupled with inflation is getting to be too much to bear. They have been clear in asking for tax relief. The Give It Back plan focuses on giving back to the very taxpayers that have funded this historic surplus. It shows that we are listening to and addressing critical needs. Unfortunately, Democrats have already earmarked a lot of this money to fund government expansion. This is not what Minnesotans want.
Senate Republicans also attempted to put forward a bill that would provide rebate checks to taxpayers. Last year, Democrats kept pushing for rebate checks, and Governor Walz even proposed giving half the surplus back to those who paid into it. In a show of good faith, Senate Republicans attempted to bring Governor Walz’s exact language to the floor, which would have provided joint filers with a $4,400 check, and single filers with a $2,200 check. These rebates would have been one-time payments and would not be subjected to state income tax. Most importantly, the checks would have provided families with instant financial relief. Unsurprisingly, Democrats would not bring this bill to a vote.
I have heard from folks all throughout my district, and their top priority is tax relief. Families are struggling with rising costs at every corner, and inflation has put a squeeze on pocketbooks. Senate Republicans have tried to provide tax relief in multiple ways: we attempted to bring forward a bill for rebate checks, we put forward an alternative tax plan that focuses specifically on tax relief, and we have tried to rein in plans for government expansion and runaway spending. Unfortunately, our attempts have been continually struck down. As we continue into the second half of the legislative session, I will continue to work and do everything in my power to advocate for tax relief for Minnesota families.