Hello from the State Capitol,
Now that the House majority has approved all of its budget bills, conference committees are now in full swing. Members who serve in these joint House/Senate meetings – and on a personal note, I am serving on the transportation finance conference committee – will ultimately craft a compromise plan that can be approved by both legislative bodies.
In transportation, our first meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, and House Democrats are hopeful that the conference committee report will be wrapped up by the end of this weekend. I am not that optimistic, but we shall see.
On the floor this week, the Minnesota House Democrat majority has approved a plan that would create a mandatory, government-run paid leave program funded by tax increases on virtually every employer and employee in Minnesota. This $3 billion program will be paid for by a brand-new tax on job providers and workers, and it would expand employers’ leave obligations to part-time and temporary employees.
Unlike the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which only applies to employers with 50 or more employees, the House Democrat paid family and medical leave program would apply to all employers including those with only one employee.
In addition to the $3 billion tax increase, as many as 400 new full-time employees will need to be hired to develop and administrate the statewide program.
House Republicans did offer an alternative that the House majority chose not to support. The plan offers a small business tax credit to incentivize employers to join the plan and would be run by a private insurance company instead of the State of Minnesota. If employers choose not to participate, workers can buy into the program for $5 a week. Unlike the Democrat plan, the Republican MN FaMLI plan allows employees satisfied with their current benefits to keep them and provides flexibility for employees and employers with no new payroll taxes or mandates that will harm small businesses.
The goal was to provide paid family and medical leave benefits for Minnesotans without the job-crushing mandates and new payroll taxes found in the Democrats’ proposal. Unfortunately, it was voted down on a 64-68 tally.
This is yet another example of the House majority choosing to raise taxes on anyone who runs a business and anyone who works for one, despite the fact that Minnesota has a $17.5 billion state budget surplus. In all, more than $9 billion in proposed Democrat tax increases have been brought forward and approved on the House floor this session.
Talk to you soon,