The 2013 Minnesota Legislature faces some of the most critical issues in generations when it meets for the first time today. Minnesota faces a $1.1 billion shortfall in FY 2014-15 ($2.0 billion when inflation is included) and is suffering from years of deficits, budget gimmicks and quick fixes.
Minnesota's tax system no longer meets the state's needs. It is not raising enough revenue to fund the state's priorities, and it asks low- and moderate-income Minnesotans to carry too much of the responsibility for funding state and local services.
Policymakers have an opportunity to make responsible budget and tax choices that end the cycle of deficits and gimmicks, and get us on the path to making public investments important to our quality of life and that ensure all Minnesotans have the opportunity to succeed.
The Minnesota Budget Project's top three priorities for the 2013 Legislative Session are:
- Pass a responsible budget that sustainably funds the state's priorities and does not rely on gimmicks and quick fixes. (Policymakers should also require that inflation be included in future economic forecasts to ensure transparency and accountability in budget decisions.)
- Reform our tax system so that it adequately funds Minnesota's priorities and is more fair. An increase in the state's income tax based on the ability to pay will share the responsibility for raising revenue more fairly. To the extent that tax reform increases taxes not based on the ability to pay, it should include policies like tax credits to offset increases on low- and moderate-income Minnesotans.
- Increase access to health care for more Minnesotans through health care reform. More than 140,000 low-income children and their parents, seniors, and people with disabilities could gain access to affordable health insurance if policymakers expand Medicaid. They should also preserve MinnesotaCare's legacy of making affordable health care coverage available to low-income working families by creating a Basic Health Plan. And policymakers must create a state-based health insurance exchange that effectively negotiates on behalf of Minnesotans and creates opportunities for future reform efforts.
Policymakers can make a fundamental difference in our state's future if they adopt our priorities and invest in our people, our communities and our future.