The time of the session has arrived where the House starts taking full votes on a number of bills that will shape our state budget for the next biennium. There are 10 House budget bills in all and the first to come to the floor was the omnibus tax bill, which was approved on Thursday.
Most noteworthy from a statewide perspective is the House tax bill provides $1.35 billion in tax relief, but legislation of local interest I authored also is included.
The provision I authored would allow implementation of the half-cent sales tax Fergus Falls residents approved in a referendum last November to fund construction of a new library. The library provision is part of the process that is necessary for the tax local voters approved to go on the books. It is one of those things where we should be in good shape with this if and when a tax package is enacted this session.”
As far as top-line items in the $1.35 billion in tax relief approved by the House in H.F. 4, the single-largest provision is $270 million to reduce the state tax on Social Security income. This would be a great benefit to seniors, especially those living on fixed incomes. But, overall, there are many good reasons this is a very good tax bill and it ought to be passed very quickly in the conference committee.
Other provisions in the bill include:
The House also on Thursday approved an omnibus bill related to the environment and natural resources. The overall theme is to improve government transparency through reforming the funding process of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency with the goal of improving efficiency and streamlining the permitting process. Another key component would delay the enforcement of buffer strips until 2018 to allow for more time to resolve issues that have arisen regarding the implementation process.
I will pass along more information on the omnibus bills as they continue to move through the House floor. Transportation and K-12 finance bills are expected to be next, and just around the corner should be the higher ed. bill I am authoring as chairman of that committee.