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

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Legislative Update from Rep. Linda Runbeck

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

The legislative session is down to the final four…the final four weeks before adjournment.  Issues I’m eagerly anticipating are the tax bill, additional transportation funding, school safety and the bonding bill. 

On the school safety front, I’m happy with where this issue is heading.  The initiatives that my colleagues in the House and I are proposing enhance school security, address student mental health, and provide school districts with needed resources and the flexibility to use those resources.  Because every school district is different, flexibility is important to allow schools the latitude to bring in counselors or other mental health professionals as they see fit.

In total, our proposal aims to authorize nearly $50 million on critically needed improvements, $25 million of which will come from the budget surplus with another $25 million in bonding dollars for facility security upgrades. 

Our children are our most important resource, and it’s our duty to make sure that they receive a world-class education in a safe environment.

Tax Conformity

There has been movement on federal tax conformity in recent days as both the Governor and House have released plans. What we know is that if we do nothing, there will be havoc next year for millions of tax filers!

Under Governor Dayton’s plan, Minnesotans of all incomes would get a tax increase.  That’s according to an analysis by the Department of Revenue.  Moreover, households making less than $32,000 would be hit hardest making Minnesota's tax code more regressive.  The Governor also repeals tax reductions enacted last session, and makes other changes reacting to tax changes at the federal level.

For myself and my colleagues in the House, the Governor’s plan is a non-starter.

House Tax Bill

The House tax plan looks to simplify the code and lower taxes for as many Minnesotans as possible.  Here are some of the topline items from our proposal:

  • Helping middle-class Minnesotans keep more of what they earn by cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.75% by tax year 2020. This would mark the first income tax rate reduction in Minnesota since 2000.
  • Lowering taxes for people at all income levels by increasing the standard deduction from $13,000 to $14,000.
  • Protecting families by preserving a state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150.
  • Encouraging affordable homeownership by allowing a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.
  • Supporting hometown businesses and farmers by reinvesting extra revenue from corporate tax changes into Section 179 conformity and overall rate reductions.

Bills Working Their Way Along

I’ve authored several bills that are working their way through the process – one that would require teacher licensing to cover dyslexia, another requiring more financial transparency of the Met Council, another on the security of Minnesota’s electric grid, and so on.  Issues I’m also focusing on are light rail safety and water supply. 

Also, as the chair of the House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy Committee, I am anticipating some key votes on Met Council reform.  For suburbanites, reining in this unelected appointed body which has the power to tax us and tell us how they want us to live, this reform is a big deal. 

Staying in Touch

As the session winds down, the activity level around here will really amp up.  I’m never too busy though to take time to meet with constituents who want to see how the process works.  Please know you're always welcome to stop in and see what's happening at the Legislature. My office is Room 417 of the State Office Building, and my phone is 651-296-2907.

Have a great day!

Linda

 

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