September 21, 2015
SAINT PAUL, MN – State Representative Melissa Hortman (DFL- Brooklyn Park) introduced a proposal today to give a refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 to Minnesotans who choose to take climate action by investing in an electric vehicle, solar panels, a share in a community solar garden, a share in a community wind project, geothermal heating and cooling, or energy efficient improvements on their homes. The credit would phase out gradually, where individuals making $65,000 would see the beginning of the phase out and couples making $130,000 would see the beginning of the phase out.
“The tax credit I’m proposing would help remove the barrier of the up-front cost for those Minnesotans who would like to take action on climate but whose economic resources make that difficult,” said Rep. Hortman.
The credit would apply to 50% of a qualified investment in any of the listed climate actions. In other words, the maximum credit of $1,000 would be available to anyone spending $2,000 or more, and whose income was below $65,000 for an individual or $130,000 for a couple.
September 21-28 is climate week at the UN in New York City, with many discussions surrounding the United Nations post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Countries around the world will release their proposed climate action plans in advance of the international climate summit in Paris in December. By October 1st, countries will submit their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to state their country-specific plans to reduce carbon pollution.
Human causes of climate change will also be the focus of a busy week in Washington, D.C., as Pope Francis’ address to Congress on Thursday is widely expected to focus on the encyclical he released in June of this year, Laudato Si. Catholics around the country will be able to see live broadcasts of the Pope’s address to Congress, including here in Minnesota. The Pope’s encyclical is a call to action for global leaders and individuals to act on climate. Pope Francis points out that some of the worst effects of climate change will hit the poor more intensely than the wealthy.
“There is increasing momentum around the world and in Minnesota preceding the international climate talks in December,” said Rep. Hortman. “That’s why businesses like General Mills are taking action and making bold commitments to reduce their impact. Even global oil companies are making plans to reduce their climate pollution.”
In Minnesota, the Legislature is having two meetings this week. One in Becker Monday evening to focus on the critical importance of ensuring that any employees at risk of losing their jobs in the transition to a decarbonized economy are properly compensated, their pensions protected, and that the state, our higher education institutions, our employers, and our unions stand by prepared to ensure workers are re-trained for jobs in the clean energy economy.
State Representative Hortman is looking forward to partnering with Representatives Garofalo and Newberger, MnSCU, DEED, IBEW and others to ensure that any Xcel employees whose jobs may be phased out in the coming years have: 1) certainty of dislocated workers’ assistance; and 2) certainty regarding re-training for jobs in demand.
The second meeting on Thursday afternoon will be an in-depth examination of how the Clean Power Plan will impact Minnesota, including a look at the rough outlines of what we could include in our State Implementation Plan. The State Implementation Plan is not due to the EPA until late next year, and a broad group of stakeholders is working collaboratively to develop a plan in Minnesota’s best interests. Many of Minnesota’s comments on the draft rule were incorporated into the final rule by USEPA.
Individual Minnesotans favor taking action on climate, and many are doing so. For some Minnesotans, a barrier to taking action on climate can be the initial up-front cost.
During last year’s budget negotiations, a sticking point in getting to a deal on time was the Republicans’ purported interest in having $1 billion left on the bottom line for tax cuts in election year 2016. The reason for not enacting a college tuition freeze or not insuring that all families have access to high-quality preschool was the need to have $1 billion on the bottom line for the 2016 tax bill. It’s likely much of the 2016 session will focus on the contents of the tax bill.