Testifying before the Public Safety Committee last week on my bill HF 2176 with Tim Walsh and Gina Evans from MN Adult and Teen Challenge. This legislation restructures non-violent drug offenders' probation, parole and supervised release before revoking and sending them back to prison.
Last week was a busy one at the Capitol as House finance committees worked to finalize budget omnibus bills that will fund state government for the next two years.
The week began with House Republicans unveiling our budget targets that focus on doing things “the Minnesota Way.” Just like families in Wright County do with their own budgets, we looked to craft a responsible budget that focuses on funding our shared and needed priorities, and our first priority was tax relief.
In all, our budget provides $1.35 billion in middle-class tax relief for hardworking taxpayers across the state, putting more money back in your pocket. For retired Minnesotans living on a fixed income, our tax bill reduces the state tax on Social Security by increasing the limit on taxable income. Additionally, for families with childcare expenses, we are expanding the dependent care credit which could provide a family of four $660 more in tax relief than under current law. To address college affordability, we are expanding subtractions and credits for families saving for college with a 529 Savings Plan, as well as creating a first-in-the-nation tax credit for student loan payments. Finally, for our hometown businesses we are empowering them to expand and hire by reducing the extra state property tax on businesses and conforming our state death tax to the federal exclusion.
After Governor Dayton vetoed the overwhelmingly bipartisan tax bill last year, House Republicans have come back once again to advocate for substantial tax relief for the hardworking taxpayers who helped fund our state’s surplus.
In addition to tax relief, another priority this session is transportation. The Minnesota Road & Bridge Act will invest $6 billion into transportation over the next decade—all without a harmful gas tax increase. We would see $2 billion spent in the next two years alone to jumpstart transportation improvements across the state.
Key highlights in our transportation plan include $300 million in one-time Corridors of Commerce Funding for Fiscal Year 2018; $25 million to continue the small cities funding program for local road projects in communities with fewer than 5,000 residents; and $450 million in new funding for roads and bridges by redirecting transportation-related taxes that we already collect.
Additionally, for public transit, our bill requires counties or the County Transit Improvement Board to fund 100 percent of operating and future capital costs for light rail. If counties want to invest in high-cost train projects, then they should pick up the tab, not state taxpayers. Furthermore, our plan also redirects Motor Vehicle Sales Tax funding from the Met Council to Suburban Transit.
Providing tax relief, funding roads and bridges, investing in education and making health care more affordable are all priorities in the House Republican budget this session. After we pass these omnibus bills, our next step is to negotiate with the Senate and governor to come up with a final budget agreement. My hope is that our final budget does things the Minnesota Way—respecting taxpayers, investing in our shared priorities and reining in state government growth.
I will keep you updated on omnibus bills as they are passed in the House in the coming weeks.
If you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.