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State Representative Anna Wills

491 State Office BuildingState Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
651-296-4306

For more information contact: House GOP Communications 651-296-5522

Posted: 2018-06-08
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Legislative Update

Legislative Update from Rep. Anna Wills


Friends,

Congratulations to all of the graduating seniors across our community and the whole state! Best wishes as you enter this next season of life!

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Scenes from District 196 High School Graduations across our community. 

Pension Bill Signed 

The Pension bill was an important bill Governor Dayton signed into law on May 31st. It’s expected to save Minnesota taxpayers $57 million in fiscal year 2019 and $263 million in the next biennium. Furthermore, according to Minnesota Management and Budget, this bipartisan legislation will eliminate $3.4 billion from the state's unfunded pension liability, improving the sustainability of pensions for police, volunteer firefighters, teachers, and public employees.

I was proud to vote yes for this bill and have met with so many of you regarding this important topic. This is a win for both the pension holders and taxpayers who will save money by the legislature acting now to get our pensions system stabilized for the future.

Consequences of No Tax Conformity Bill

Passing a comprehensive Tax Conformity bill to address the changes made in 2017 by the federal government to reform our federal tax code was my top priority during the 2018 Session. As a member of the Taxes Committee, I worked hard along with my colleagues to send bipartisan legislation to Governor Dayton to address this critically important issue facing Minnesotans.

Due to Governor Dayton's vetoes of the Tax Conformity bills (we sent him a second bill after he vetoed the first bill, but he vetoed both), the Minnesota Department of Revenue will have to create and administer the state tax code based on current law. Since we did not conform to the federal government’s new tax filing system, the Minnesota Department of Revenue will no longer be able to simply use that final number from the federal tax return. The Department will have to create a whole new system, essentially creating a whole new and complicated state version of the standard 1040 form.

While the state code will be the same, the Department of Revenue has determined there will be tax increases on nearly 300,000 Minnesotans to the tune of $26 million in 2019, and $55 million in 2020-21. This is related to "consistent elections" when filing your taxes, meaning if you take the standard deduction on the federal level, you MUST take the standard deduction on the state level. This wasn't really a large issue previously because Minnesota conformed to the federal standard deduction amount. Consider the following (real) example:

A couple itemizes $18,000 on their taxes. For tax year 2017, previous to federal tax changes, they would itemize on both the state and federal level because the standard deduction was only $12,600 that year. In tax year 2018, after the federal tax changes, the couple will take the new federal standard deduction of $24,000. However, since the Department of Revenue says the state tax code mandates a "consistent election", that couple has to take the state's 2018 standard deduction amount of $13,000. This means the couple will have a tax increase as it compares to the year previous because they are being forced to leave $5,000 in deductions on the table.

This complex situation is exactly what we were trying to avoid when we sent - not one - but two compromise Tax Conformity bills to the governor's desk. I am hopeful that the next governor and legislature will be able to work together quickly on this in January to avoid as many headaches as possible for taxpayers. As a member of the Taxes Committee, this will certainly continue to be my top priority when the 2019 Session convenes next year.

Education Funding

While Governor Dayton, unfortunately, vetoed $225 million in education dollars made available in the Tax Conformity and Emergency Education Funding bill, and another $28 million in school safety funding in the Supplemental Budget Omnibus bill, there was still a good amount of investment in education signed into law during the 2018 Session. 

First, Governor Dayton signed the Bonding bill that included $25 million for school security facility grants, plus several other projects, bringing the total education spending in the Bonding bill to $48 million. Second, the governor signed the Pension bill, which includes $70 million in school aid over the next three years to help stabilize the teacher pension funds. This funding is direct aid to cover the increased employer contributions to the teacher pension funds.

For the entire biennium, our total commitment to education is nearly $543 million in new money, including the largest per pupil formula funding increase in nearly 12 years. This was combined with historic reforms enacted in the 2017 Session, including repealing the state's default "last in, first out" teacher retention law so school districts can decide the best layoff process for them when faced with making those difficult decisions, and the new tiered teacher licensing system that will begin on July 1st.

Teaching Licensing Rules

Speaking of the new tiered teacher licensing system, the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) is in the process of developing rules as a result of the reforms passed by the legislature to change the way we license teachers in the state of Minnesota. These reforms were done to help address teacher shortages across the state, as well as correct the subjective and inconsistent licensing process that out-of-state teachers had to go through to get licensed here in Minnesota.

There was a hearing on the proposed rules this morning, June 8th, but the comment period will close on June 15th at 4:30pm. I personally submitted comments and I wanted to share this link with you in case any of you are interested in submitting your own comments, or in case you know anyone who would be interested in submitting comments.

Suicide Prevention Hotline

Minnesota's statewide mental health hotline, known as Crisis Connections, will not be able to receive calls past June 30th due to the funding being vetoed by Governor Dayton. As an alternative, Minnesotans can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), Minnesota metro hotline (**274747) (soon statewide), or text MN to 741741.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but, if you or someone you know needs help, please don't hesitate to reach out to this important Lifeline.

IN THE COMMUNITY:

Apple Valley Chamber Coffee Connection

On Tuesday, June 5th, I attended the Apple Valley Chamber Coffee Connection hosted by Augustana Care. I always enjoy visiting with folks in the business community and talking about important issues. Thanks to Augustana Care for hosting and for all you do for our elderly residents in our community!

 

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Rep. Wills at the Apple Valley Chamber Coffee Connection. (Photo credit: Fabiana Pardo)

June at the Zoo

The Kangaroos are back at the Minnesota Zoo! Kangaroo Crossing is now open again. See more details here. On Saturday, June 9th, the Zoo will have limited hours due to their annual fundraiser, the Beastly Bash. Details are available here. I'll be at the Zoo's Beastly Bash fundraiser as well, so maybe I'll see you there! 

Music in Kelley Park

Every Friday evening this summer in Kelley Park in Apple Valley, there will be a free concert in the park! This fun concert series is sponsored by the Apple Valley Arts Foundation, Uponor, and Think Mutual Bank, with their first concert, 5 Speed, performing next Friday, June 15th, at 6pm. For the full line-up of concerts and additional details, visit: http://avartsfoundation.org/events/

Rosemount's 6th Annual ArtBlast

The 6th Annual ArtBlast, sponsored by the Rosemount Area Arts Council and several local businesses, will be held the last full week in June, starting on Monday, June 18th, with activities and concerts for the whole family! Most events are free. For the full schedule celebrating the arts in Rosemount, visit: http://www.rosemountarts.com/Products.html

Rosemount Public Safety in the Park

On Tuesday, June 19th, from 5:30-7:30pm, in Central Park in Rosemount, come meet your local police officers and emergency personnel, and explore hands-on displays of their vehicles and equipment. Free admission. Hot dogs, chips, and water will be provided. I hope to see you there!

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Rep. Wills with her son Gideon at last year's Public Safety in the Park.

Keep in Touch

Thank you to so many of you who have contacted my office! I receive hundreds of emails weekly and value all of your feedback. Thank you also for your patience as I work to respond to each of you. It is truly an honor to serve you in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

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Anna Wills
State Representative District 57B

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