This is the busiest time of the year at the Capitol, which makes it the perfect time for local school groups to visit with the Legislature hard at work and the building abuzz with visitors championing various causes. It was great to see recent groups from our area, including students from:
St. Boniface School in Cold Spring
Kimball High School
Nearing end of session
The Legislature’s Monday deadline for adjournment is nearing, with some bills funding parts of our state’s next two-year budget yet to be resolved. Here is where things stood as the House left the floor last night with more in store for today.
Where is tax relief?
With only days remaining in the 2023 legislative session and a tax bill still not approved, Minnesotans are wondering when they will see any relief. This should have been a slam dunk with the state possessing a $17.5 billion surplus while residents are struggling to pay their bills. Here are some of the more pressing tax issues:
Social Security tax relief Despite nearly universal agreement to eliminate the unnecessary taxation on Social Security benefits for all of Minnesota’s senior citizens, talks of following through on that promise disappeared almost immediately after the session started in January. A full elimination for all elderly residents appears increasingly unlikely.
Baby products An all-Democrat-controlled panel removed an overwhelmingly bipartisan provision that would eliminate sales taxes from baby products. This tax exemption provides meaningful support for all parents in Minnesota as they expand their families and is especially helpful for first-time parents who may be overwhelmed at the costs of bringing a baby home safely.
Rebate checks The governor began this session by saying he wanted $2,000 rebates sent to married couples making $150,000 or less and $1,000 checks sent to single filers making $75,000 or less each year. Legislative Democrats have proposed just a fraction of that amount, $520 for the same joint filers and $260 for singles.
Gas tax increase? The Democrats found plenty of taxes and fees to raise in the transportation arena – including a ¾ cent Metro Area sales tax and increases on license tab renewals and the motor vehicle sales tax, to name a few – but raising the gasoline tax in the face of a mammoth budget surplus was supposed to be off the table. Now, in the final hours of this session, Democrats won’t rule out having the gas tax tied to inflation, which would further financially devastate drivers who are currently paying nearly $4 per gallon.
We’ll see how things unfold this weekend and into this session's adjournment. I will keep you posted and, as always, your input is welcome.