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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Report from the Capitol

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Friends,

Preserving our state's infrastructure is a key responsibility of the Legislature. With 12,000 miles of roadway, over 3,000 bridges, hundreds of water treatment facilities, 54 college and university campuses, airports, ports and more, there are enormous assets to preserve. That's why, every two years, a large bonding bill containing money for hundreds of projects is passed to fund asset preservation.

During the 2016 legislative session, infrastructure funding was a major focus and culminated in the House bonding bill of 2016 (H.F. 622). The bill authorized borrowing for nearly $1 billion in basic, no-frills, essential projects. It passed off the floor with a vote of 91-39.

Unfortunately, the bill died in the Senate, held hostage by DFL demands for money for the $1.74 billion South West Light Rail project. With only minutes remaining, Sen. Ron Lats, D-St. Louis Park, tweeted following the vote: "No light rail funding, no bonding bill. When will the House figure this out?"

Many projects in our region are being held up, such as:

  • $30 million for U.S. Highway 10, Hanson Blvd. to Round Lake Blvd.
  • $20.5 million for Interstate 694/Rice Street Interchange
  • $11.9 million for rail grade crossing separation in Anoka County
  • $12.5 million for Small Cities Road Assistance, affecting Centerville and Lexington
  • $1.1 million for Hugo short-line railroad track repair and replacement (my bill)
  • $3 million for 105th Ave. repair through the Amateur Sports Center in Blaine

I'm proud to have worked on and supported this needed legislation. In doing so, I and other Republicans prioritized middle-class families by passing more than one-half of a billion dollars in tax relief for veterans, college graduates with student loan debt, farmers, and more; generational reforms to improve quality-of-life for Minnesota's aging adults and historic levels of education funding.

In the next three years, the plan which passed the Legislature and now is in the hands of the governor for enactment provides tax relief in the amounts as follows:

  • $110 million in tax relief for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, the first of its kind in the country
  • $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children's college costs
  • $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state by exempting the first $100,000 of commercial-industrial property
  • $150 million in tax relief for working families by expanding the working family tax credit
  • $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; by expanding the childcare tax credit, families could earn a tax credit up to $960

Another major change in our state tax code led to passage this year recognizes the sacrifice veterans have made in serving our country by ends the state income tax on veterans pension benefits.We need Gov. Dayton to call a special session immediately to make sure that $995 million in critical projects and all the jobs affected can go forward.

Sincerely,

Linda Runbeck

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