(The Center Square) – “Normal is on the horizon,” Gov. Tim Walz told Minnesotans in his state-of-state address in 2021.
Walz gave his speech Sunday evening from his old classroom in Mankato.
The state is recovering quickly from the global pandemic, he said, with 80% of older people having a single dose of the vaccine and two-thirds of school staff vaccinated. Starting Tuesday, he said, all Minnesotans aged 16 and over will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Walz has called for a “goal line stance” against COVID-19 with masking and social distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19 variants as nearly 80,000 Minnesotans receive an injected dose.
He also renewed his pressure for tax hikes. While he lowered some taxes in a revised budget, he called on some Minnesotans to pay more taxes to fund additional services for low-income Minnesotans.
“While the wealthiest Minnesotans have done well during the pandemic, our students, small businesses and working families have struggled to cope,” Walz said.
Walz’s proposed budget aims to increase the corporate income tax, which taxes all profitable businesses. Rough estimates put this number at 34,000 companies.
His proposed budget cut his planned corporate tax hike from 11.25% to 10.8%, which would have pushed Minnesota to the second highest corporate tax rate in the country behind New Jersey. at 11.5%. The current state corporation tax rate is 9.8%.
Walz’s revised proposal maintains its new fifth level of income tax for household income over $ 1 million or for a single employee earning $ 500,000 or more, which would drop Minnesota from the fifth income tax. income – 9.85% on taxable income above $ 164,400 per year – to the third highest.
The budget also maintained a higher capital gains tax rate: 1.5% on sales profits between $ 500,000 and $ 1 million, and 4% if over $ 1 million.
Walz touted his stimulus budget, saying he would give Minnesotans the help they need to recover from COVID-19 by providing the first $ 350,000 in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to businesses and corporations. first $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits in 2020 tax-free.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans passed a bill to completely exempt P3 loans from state taxes.
Walz claimed those taxes would fund tax breaks for more than 300,000 Minnesotans, direct cash payments for 32,000 struggling families and $ 50 million in COVID-19 forgivable loans for small businesses.
Walz said things are returning to normal as some COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in the state and across the country as the number of vaccinations increases.
But “getting back to normal is not enough,” Walz said, saying the government should redistribute wealth to the poorest Minnesotans hit hard by COVID-19. He touted his “Due au Nord” education plan, which he said will stem the loss of learning and close the gap in opportunity.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of R-East Gull Lake released a video ahead of the speech, saying the state is “going in the right direction” to recover from COVID-19.
Gazelka called for “clear directions” as to when Walz will lift emergency powers and when children can resume regular activities such as proms and graduation ceremonies.
He also renewed his position to pass a budget that helps Minnesotans without raising taxes.