The state government has an extra $4.2 billion in the bank, but is raising taxes on businesses

On Dec. 7, the Minnesota Management and Budget announced that Minnesota was expecting a $7.7 billion surplus for the 2022-2023 biennium. $3.1 billion of that is leftover money from the last biennium, and is already in the bank. Adding the $1.1 billion unspent federal funds, the Minnesota state government currently has $4.2 billion unspent funds in the bank for the next biennium.

Despite all that money, employers will see a hike in their unemployment taxes since the state is yet to pay back the federal government for the money it borrowed during the pandemic to furnish the state unemployment insurance program.

Employers around the state have received notice that their unemployment taxes will go up by 14%. Meanwhile, the state government has submitted a request to the federal government asking for more time to pay interest on the unemployment loan.

This could have been avoided if the legislature had used federal relief funds to pay back the federal government, as most states have done. This is something American Experiment recommended in September.

In November, House Republicans sent a letter urging Gov. Tim Walz to use federal funds to pay back the federal government in order to prevent tax hikes on businesses. However, Senate Democrats were against the idea of using federal funds for tax cuts on businesses.

Paying back the federal government in order to prevent tax hikes on businesses is certainly not a tax cut. Businesses would not be facing a tax hike if the legislature had agreed to use leftover American Rescue Plan (ARP) money to pay back the federal government before the last session ended.

It is mind-boggling that in the light of a historic surplus, some legislators indicate that they would not support tax relief for large corporations who don’t need it. As the Star Tribune reported

Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler said his colleagues want to make sure small and struggling businesses are able to get tax help or other aid, potentially through the state devoting a chunk of money to the unemployment insurance trust fund.

“But we are not interested in providing a big tax benefit for large corporations that don’t need it,” said Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley. “And so we will have to think about pretty quickly how to work with the business community, work with Republicans, to target help to businesses that are struggling in this environment.”

Large or small, businesses should not be penalized for our government’s love for spending. With a $7.7 billion surplus plus $1.1 billion from the federal government –– a total of $8.8 billion in extra money –– raising taxes on businesses would be highly illogical.