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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Update from the House

Friday, May 12, 2017

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Good luck in the fishing opener.


Several omnibus budget bills have received final approval from the Legislature and have been sent to the governor for his action. The remaining few should soon follow.

Tax relief and transportation are two of the more noteworthy bills to receive approval. The tax bill features $1.15 billion in relief over the next two years, including a $218 million reduction on the state tax on Social Security income. There also is significant tax relief for senior citizens, college students, farmers, small business owners and families and others.

With a $1.65 billion state budget surplus, it is quite evident Minnesotans have been overtaxed by government. Our state has some of the nation’s highest income, sales and business taxes in the nation and it is a top priority of ours in the House to provide robust tax relief for overburdened Minnesotans this year.

Here are some of the bill’s highlights. I believe you will be pleased with some of our great tax relief:

  • $218 million in relief for Minnesota’s senior citizens by increasing the income limit thresholds for the taxation of social security income.
  • More than $70 million to address college affordability through a first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan payments, along with subtractions and credits for families saving for college using 529 Savings Plans. 65,000 students will receive an average of a $414 reduction in their taxes through a tax credit for student loan payments.
  • $35 million in relief for farmers by reducing the burden farmers and agriculture land owners pay for school bond referendums. Approximately 240,000 farmers could receive property tax relief to reduce their disproportionate share of school district debt service.
  • $36 million for families with young children by modifying the child and dependent care credit. A family of four making $50,000 a year will receive an additional $1,200 towards their child care expenses.
  • $126 million in relief for hometown businesses by exempting the first $150,000 in property value from the extra tax on businesses and freezing its automatic inflator.

Also on the governor’s desk is a bill that invests $5.5 billion over the next 10 years in the state’s transportation needs without raising taxes. The proposal includes a strong focus on dedicating existing transportation related revenues that are currently in excess in the general fund to roads and bridges. We direct $372 million in new dollars from existing transportation-related sales taxes over the next two years alone.

Greater Minnesota sees big benefits from this bill, with:

  • $20 million in FY18/19 for Small Cities Assistance Program for cities under 5,000
  • $25 million to fund over 97 bridges on MNDOT's priority list
  • Statewide investment in roads: $150 million in trunk highway, $70 million for counties, $22 million for cities

On a final note, I have joined a growing bipartisan coalition of legislators, agriculture, and other stakeholders urging Gov. Mark Dayton to compromise on changes to the state buffer law set to go into effect later this year.

To date, Dayton has flatly refused to even discuss changes, despite a broad coalition of farmers, agriculture groups, legislators, and others who are urging changes to make it more fair and workable for landowners and local units of government.

The way the governor forced this issue on people is causing headaches for both landowners and local officials alike as enforcement nears. I've heard strong concerns from many people in Wright County regarding the buffer law.

The best thing we can do is to press pause and regroup so those concerns and confusion can be addressed. Rushing to enforcement is never a good idea and it is abundantly clear new buffer law is not ready to take effect. I encourage the governor to face that reality and start working with the people who are impacted by his buffer strips so we can find common-sense solutions.

Look for more news from the Capitol soon as we make our way into the final week before adjournment. Minnesotans sent us to the Capitol to pass a budget and get our work done on time and that is exactly what we in the House intend to do.

To you mothers, you are truly amazing. I don’t know how you do it, but God bless you and have a happy Mother’s Day.

Also, good luck to anyone participating in the fishing opener. Please be safe.




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