It took until the final day of the 2016 legislative session, but Minnesotans are on track to finally receive some long overdue tax relief.
With a $900 million surplus, it would have been unconscionable to not provide relief to those who are generously funding our government programs. In all, we were able to allocate more than $800 million to the taxpayers over the next three years.
My only regret is that we weren’t able to do more. But when you’re negotiating with a governor who wants to spend every dime of available money in this state and a Democratic-controlled Senate who backs him up, I’m happy with what we accomplished. And let there be no mistake – the taxpayers won definitively and decisively.
First off, I’m very pleased my two top priorities were included in our compromise tax relief agreement. As chairman of the Minnesota House Property Tax and Local Government Finance Division, I have repeatedly heard the call from farmers and Main Street business owners to ease their financial burden. Now, we have approved historic tax relief in those areas.
For our small business owners throughout Greater Minnesota, you’ll be pleased to know we are actually repealing a tax that has hindered you. The bill removes the state general tax for all business property up to the first $100,000 in value. This provision will save the average business owner nearly $1000 a year in state property taxes.
Farmers and rural property owners have also been getting unfairly leveled through school construction bond levies. Now, the legislature has dedicated nearly $91 million in agriculture property tax relief, which will result in a tax reduction equal to 40 percent of their school property tax obligations.
There’s also $150 million in tax relief for parents by expanding the working family tax credit and $32 million to reduce the cost of childcare; $49 million for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children's college costs; $13 million for veterans and we also exempted their military pensions from state taxes; and $110 million for college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000 - the first provision of its kind in the United States.
As a member of the bipartisan conference committee that created this compromise agreement, I was honored to have played an integral role in this process. Not only was this tax relief plan important for Goodhue, Wabasha, Dodge and Winona counties, it was important for the State of Minnesota.
We have helped restore equality between our overtaxed farm community and the Main Street business owners who are critical to our rural economy, and we have recognized that Minnesotans from all age brackets have been contributing too much to state government’s coffers.
This tax relief proposal was not only necessary but long overdue, and I’m pleased it’s heading to the governor’s desk as it is the biggest highlight of the 2016 session.