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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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Transportation and Tax Proposals

Friday, February 6, 2015


A few updates about what’s been happening at the State Capitol:

Tax Proposals

While many committees have been reviewing the Governor’s proposed budget, our House Tax Committee has been touting the public benefits of more tax loopholes for special interests.  H.F. 1, as I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t lower taxes for any middle class families in Minnesota.  Rather, it lowers taxes for companies that are held by single individuals.  So far I’ve not seen any attempts by the GOP to expand their generosity to middle class Minnesotans.

Speaking of generosity, the Tax Committee also heard a series of bills that would increase the amount of money an estate can pass on without paying the estate tax.  Today, if someone dies, their estate would not have to pay tax on $1.4 million in inherited wealth.  That increases up to $2 million in 2018.  If you pass it on to your spouse, it’s exempt.  Only 1.26% of estates are worth $2 million.  There are also special exclusions and benefits for homestead farmland and qualifying small business properties.

Some of the bills the GOP is proposing increase the inheritance tax exemption up to $5.43 million.  This would cost the rest of us about $100 million to benefit about 700 very wealthy estates.  I can’t fathom why we’d spend $100 million on benefits for 700 estates a year when it could go to tax cuts for regular folks, or a real transportation bill, or more affordable public colleges and universities.

While I appreciate Minnesotans making a very successful life for themselves, having the first $1.4 - $2 million exempt in current law seems a generous enough benefit. 

Transportation Proposals

As we’ve learned more about the GOP proposal for roads and bridges, I’ve grown more concerned about how they propose to pay for the small amount of improvements they’re seeking.  Remember, they’re proposing to spend enough money to build one rural highway bridge a year – a little more than $200 million a year for the next 4 years. 

For as long as I’ve been alive, we’ve paid for roads with fees generated by people using roads – gas taxes, registration fees, charges to trucking and the like.  Now they’re proposing to spend money out of the State’s general fund for roads and bridges.  At first this seems o.k., but the general fund is what we use to pay for K-12 Schools, the State Colleges and Universities, and things like Police and Fire Departments in local communities.  That means, in a few short years, we’ll be taking money from schools, police, and fire departments to pay for roads.  What’s so hard about having the folks who use roads pay for road maintenance?  We’ve been doing that for more than 50 years!

As always I remain accessible and look forward to hearing from you.  Feel free to contact me at 651-296-3751, or


Thank you for giving me the honor of serving you and our community,