Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Earlier today, the Office of Minnesota Management and Budget released their budget forecast which shows our state has a surplus of $900 million. That's great news for Minnesota's economic outlook, and with those dollars, House Republicans will be prioritizing two things: tax relief and transportation.
First, a significant budget surplus demonstrates that state government has taken too much from hardworking taxpayers, and I want to see money returned to you through middle class tax relief. Last session, the House passed a $2 billion tax relief bill which is now sitting in conference committee awaiting final negotiations with the Senate. Our bill includes a number of great initiatives that would positively benefit people across Minnesota including middle class families, college students, aging adults, veterans, farmers and job creators.
For example, for middle class families with children, there are tax credits to help reimburse for daycare expenses and additional education deductions for early learning and K-12. Moreover, for people saving for school with a Minnesota College Savings Plan or for future long-term care expenses, there are additional tax credits that would be available as well. For our seniors, Republicans are proposing to phase-out the income tax on social security and for our veterans who honorably served our nation, we would no longer be subjecting their military pay or pensions to income tax.
These are just a few examples of the substantial tax relief House Republicans supported last year. We all know Minnesota is a high tax state, and I want to see your tax burden lessened. Expect tax relief to be a top legislative priority again this session.
In addition to middle class tax relief, House Republicans passed a comprehensive 10-year, $7 billion Road and Bridge Act last session which is also awaiting final action in conference committee. The Road and Bridge Act provides for the repair or replacement of over 15,000 lane miles and 320 bridges statewide—all without a tax increase.
Furthermore, our transportation plan, if signed into law, will dedicate more than $27.5 million per year over the next several years for the small cities road program, using taxes already collected from rental cars to fill potholes on the local roadways we use every day. For our district, that would mean more than $180,000 in the first year of implementation to fix up local roads.
Also, you may recall that last session Governor Dayton advocated for his plan to raise the wholesale gas tax which could cost drivers in our community at least $180 more in taxes each year. Many in our community contacted me strongly opposing this plan, and the good news is that Governor Dayton has indicated he will back of his push for a gas tax increase this session.
The Road and Bridge Act passed last year in the House offers a common sense alternative that allows the state to invest in infrastructure improvements while still protecting Minnesota taxpayers. I hope we can negotiate a strong final transportation bill with the Senate to improve our roads and bridges in Minnesota.
Taxes and transportation will be two major items on the agenda for the 2016 legislative session which begins on March 8th, but I want to hear from you about your priorities. As always, I welcome you to contact my office and share your ideas, input and concerns. My office is also available to you should you need assistance on a matter related to state government.
Have a wonderful weekend.