This weekend makes a time for celebration and remembrance. I’ll be celebrating and congratulating our 2016 high school graduates this weekend in many of our area schools. It is their time. And on Monday, I’ll be taking time to remember our loved service members who have passed away. I hope you have some time with your family, and I hope this weekend helps us keep perspective on the path forward and the remembered path behind.
Before we head into the weekend, I want to pass along some information on the last weekend of the legislative session.
Middle-Class Tax Relief
Heading into this session, our state had a $900 million surplus. Looking ahead, it was important to offer relief to middle-class citizens. Below are some highlights of the tax bill we passed and sent to the governor:
- $90.6 million in agriculture property tax relief for Minnesota farmers.
- $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, the first of its kind in the country.
- $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children's college costs.
- $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property.
- $13 million in tax relief for veterans by raising the income eligibility threshold, and increasing the total credit from $750 to $1,000.
- $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit
- $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960.
Our plan helps middle-class families, farmers, military veterans, and small business owners. After passing the House and the Senate, the bill awaits the governor’s signature.
As you know, I’ve been pushing for broadband internet for underserved and unserved areas throughout the state. In the final supplemental budget bill, we passed $35 million in broadband investment, very close to our original proposal in the House. Combined with federal dollars, we’ll see about $120 million go toward broadband expansion in Minnesota. I’m extremely proud to see this included in a bipartisan agreement, and I hope Governor Dayton signs this legislation into law.
Bonding and Transportation
On Sunday evening, the House passed our bonding and transportation bill. Contained in the language was $700 million for road and bridge infrastructure repair and expansion. After we passed the bill on a bipartisan vote, the Senate attached a surprise amendment to fund light rail expansion in the Twin Cities. Despite trying to remove the amendment so the bill would match the House, the Senate ran out of time, killing needed road and bridge funding. It’s disappointing the Senate decided to play last-minute political games, and stopped this transportation and bonding investment from helping Minnesotans.
There’s a chance Governor Dayton could call a special session so we can finish this bill, and I’ll keep you posted if that happens.
Please Contact Me
Although we’re out of session, I’d love to hear from you about any ideas or suggestions. Please call or email my office and I’ll get back to you.
Have a great weekend, and a take a few minutes to remember those who lost their lives for our country.