There is much to report from St. Paul this week, with the Legislature approving numerous omnibus finance bills which form the foundation of our state’s next two-year budget.
Taxes and transportation are two other headline-worthy bills. The tax bill provides $1.15 billion in relief over the next two years, including a $218 million reduction on the state tax on Social Security income.
We must acknowledge the reason the state has a $1.65 billion surplus is taxpayers have been overcharged. The tax bill we approved would benefit everyone from families with young ones in child care, to senior citizens, Main Street businesses, farmers, college students and beyond. The bottom line is the House is committed to putting money back in the pockets of those overtaxed Minnesotans and passage of this bill points us in that direction.
A provision I authored is included, allowing implementation of the half-cent sales tax Fergus Falls residents approved in a referendum last November to fund an addition on and updating of the city library.
The transportation bill we passed is a compromise agreement between the House and Senate to invest $5.5 billion over the next 10 years in the state’s transportation needs without raising taxes. The plan includes $2 billion for roads and bridges in the next two years.
The proposal uses transportation-related state tax revenues to invest $372 million in new dollars for roads and bridges. Additionally, the transportation proposal would fund:
Minnesotans know we can fund our roads and bridges without a gas-tax increase and this bill lets us do that. It is encouraging the governor has indicated his openness to directing existing tax dollars toward roads and bridges.
Most of the finance bills are now in the hands of the governor and the remaining few should soon follow, including the higher education funding bill I have authored. Minnesotans sent us to St. Paul to pass a budget and get our work done on time. That is exactly what we intend to do.