Work has largely shifted from committee hearings to long debates on the House floor as a number of omnibus finance bills were passed by the House this week. I am encouraged by the thoughtful approach my colleagues and I have taken in crafting these bills as we continue to stand by the belief that state spending should not grow faster than Minnesota family budgets.
Comprehensive Transportation Bill Passes House
The House debated and passed the omnibus transportation policy and finance bill late Tuesday evening. This bill is the major component to our transportation proposal that ultimately invests $7 billion over the next decade into Minnesota’s roads and bridges without raising taxes.
Over the next ten years, our proposal prioritizes repairing or replacing 15,500 lane miles for roads and 330 bridges statewide. This is accomplished through the following investments:
$4.03 billion for state roads
$1.44 billion for county roads
$583 million for municipal roads
$282 million for small cities under 5,000
$139 million for Greater Minnesota bus services
$60 million for township roads & bridges
Our approach includes the creation of a new Transportation Stability Fund that collects existing proceeds from dedicated tax revenues and deposits them into this new fund. This fund would dedicate $3.078 billion towards road and bridge repair over the next ten years. The revenues for this fund come from existing sales taxes on auto parts, rental vehicles, rental vehicle tax, and the Motor Vehicle Lease tax.
It makes sense to require taxes paid on transportation related purchases to be used towards transportation funding.
I am also encouraged by the $282 million allocated to communities with less than 5,000 residents. For our district; Claremont, Nerstrand, Medford, Ellendale, and Morristown will all see an additional $144,900 for funding that can be used towards pothole repair and other road improvements. This is money that they would not have otherwise received.
Our proposal is in stark contrast to the Governor’s proposal which includes a new tax on gasoline at the wholesale level which would account for at least a 16 cent/gallon increase on gas at the pump.
As I continue meeting with constituents, I consistently hear about the need to find a long term solution to address our transportation needs. That’s why I am so encouraged by this approach which will invest $7 billion over ten years to address our roads and bridges without increasing the burden on you, the taxpayer.
House Unveils 2015 Tax Bill
Early this week, House Republican leadership unveiled our omnibus tax bill. This bill provides $2 billion in tax relief to middle-class families, college students, aging adults, veterans, farmers, and job creators.
Here are some of the highlights from the bill:
A family of four with a pre-schooler could receive up to $1,500 in tax savings each year from deductions on pre K-12 expenses.
College or technical school students could receive up to $3,500 in student loan debt relief each year from a tax credit.
Veterans with 20 years of service could receive up to $1,970 in tax relief each year exempting them from military retirement pay.
240,000 farmers could receive property tax relief to reduce their disproportionate share of school district debt service.
Also, our bill includes a new Minnesota personal or dependent tax exemption that could save a middle-class family of four more than $500 over the next two years.
This bill will be heading to the floor in the coming days for a vote. This tax bill, along with our finance bills, proves that we can invest in Minnesotans' priorities like education, roads and bridges, our long-term care centers AND still provide significant tax relief to hardworking Minnesotans.
Thanks for taking time to read this week’s update and I look forward to bringing you more news from the Capitol as we continue working for the hardworking taxpayers of Minnesota.