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State Representative JoAnn Ward

231 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-7807

For more information contact: DJ Danielson 651-296-8879

Posted: 2016-04-15
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update - April 15, 2016


Dear Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you and your family well. It appears warmer weather is finally here to stay, and I hope you are able to take advantage of it. We are now at the half-way point of the 2016 legislative session, and I want to update you on what’s happening at the Capitol.

State Budget

Last week, the House Majority released their budget targets, which outline how much they seek to change each area of the budget. Disappointingly, despite a $900 million surplus, $0 in new funding was proposed for preK-12 education, higher education, and health and human services. While I recognize this is a “non-budget” year, we are in a position to take advantage of our fiscal situation and make some specific investments in these important areas and others. As our economic growth slows, we can provide a boost to our economy by focusing on student loan debt relief, targeted, modest tax cuts, and reducing child care costs, to name a few. The House Majority’s budget target also foreshadows a capital investment bonding bill of $600 million; a far cry from what Gov. Dayton has proposed at $1.4 billion. With low interest rates and significant needs in transportation and other infrastructure, we should be investing in Minnesota’s future.

House finance committees are now in the process of acting on their omnibus budget bills. Regrettably, the stalemate on the topic of transportation – which was to be the marquee topic of last session, and now this session – continues. For my part, I’m committed to a budget solution which will provide positive outcomes for all Minnesotans.

Equal Pay Day

This week on Wednesday, we recognized “Equal Pay Day,” the point of the year when women’s earnings have finally caught up to what men were paid in 2015. This day is observed each year to illustrate the persistent gap in wages between genders for performing the same work. On average nationwide, a Caucasian woman makes just 79 cents for each dollar a man makes over the course of a year. This disadvantage is even more extreme for women of color.

Over the course of a Minnesota woman’s career though, that’s an average of $382,360 lost due to this wage gap. We have made progress on this issue but still, a great deal of work remains, both with regard to wages as well as other policies enabling women to succeed in our economy

The “Make It Work” campaign has produced a nice video illustrating this problem. You can watch it on their YouTube channel here.

When women succeed, families succeed and our economy will continue to grow. I’ll keep working to making the goal of equality a reality.

Income Tax Filing

The 2016 income tax filing season ends at midnight on Monday, April 18, so you have a few extra days to file this year. Emancipation Day - a holiday in the District of Columbia - is being observed on Friday, April 15, pushing back the official filing day to the next business day – Monday, April 18. If you have not filed yet, the Minnesota Department of Revenue offers these tips to help taxpayers:

  • E-file and choose direct deposit - the most secure and convenient way to file your taxes and get your refund.
  • Enter your name and any dependents names exactly as they appear on Social Security cards. Incorrect names or Social Security numbers can result in refund delays.
  • Double-check bank routing and account numbers used on tax forms for direct deposit. Incorrect account numbers can delay your refund.
  • Complete each form and carry totals to the correct lines. If you file electronically, the calculations are automatically done for you.
  • Do not staple or use paperclips on your paper return. Staples and paperclips on tax returns need to be removed by hand and can slow down processing.
  • If you move after filing your return, contact us right away so anything sent to you will reach you, such as refund checks or requests for more information. You should do this even when requesting a direct deposit. Call us at 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094 (toll-free) to change your address.

File your return by the April 18, 2016 due date, even if you owe more than you can pay. Pay as much as you can by the due date and contact the Minnesota Dept. of Revenue as soon as possible to set up a payment plan for the remaining balance. Acting quickly can help to minimize any late payment penalties. For more information about making your payment electronically, visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.

For more individual income tax filing tips, check out the Minnesota Department of Revenue Weekly Tax Tip video series.

Please keep in touch with any comments, questions, or other feedback on the issues important to you. Feel free to call me any time at 651-296-7807 or email me at rep.joann.ward@house.mn; I’d love to hear from you.

Sincerely,

JoAnn Ward

Minnesota House of Representatives  ·   100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Saint Paul, MN   55155   ·   Webmaster@house.mn