Hello from the Capitol,
The 2016 legislative has come to a close as the House adjourned Sunday evening for the final time. It has been an honor serving as your representative in St. Paul this year.
Over the weekend, both the House and Senate passed legislation that will bring significant tax relief to Minnesotans across the state including farmers, college graduates with student loan debt, small businesses, veterans, families, and parents with children in childcare.
Key provisions include:
- $90.6 million in tax relief for Minnesota farmers
- $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans
- $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 plans
- $146 million in tax relief for every small business by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property
- $150 million in tax relief with an expanded working family tax credit
- $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare with an expanded childcare tax credit
In addition to the tax bill, both bodies approved a supplemental budget that will bring even more tax relief to Minnesotans. Tax relief highlights from this bill include a full state income tax exemption for veterans’ military retirement pay, an additional Angel Investor Tax Credit to encourage investments in Minnesota businesses and a tax credit for parents of still-born children.
Also included in the supplemental bill is funding to expand broadband access in unserved and underserved areas of the state. When combined with incoming federal funds, Minnesota will see over $120 million in broadband investment next year.
Finally, the supplemental bill includes a provision to address funding equity between metro and non-metro school districts. This means schools in our area will see an increase in their per-pupil funding.
While tax relief got done this year, I am frustrated to report that a bonding bill to spend over $700 million on roads and bridges, and more on other public infrastructure projects was stalled by a last minute attempt to expand taxing authority for light rail transit.
The bonding bill, which passed the House on a broad bipartisan vote of 91-39, included a number of local projects including:
- $45 million towards completing the last section of Highway 14 from Dodge Center to Owatonna
- Funding for the Oronoco Wastewater Collection and Treatment Facilities
- $5 million for the required Rochester International Airport’s U.S. Customs update
The games in the Senate are extremely disappointing, we had come to a strong bipartisan agreement earlier in the day between the two legislative bodies on the transportation and bonding bill.
On Wednesday, I took part in a bipartisan press conference in Owatonna with House Speaker Kurt Daudt, other legislators, and local leaders across the area urging the governor to call a special session so these critically needed projects, including the Highway 14, can be completed.
I will keep you updated if there are any developments on the possibility of a special session.