It is good to be back on the fifth-floor of the State Office Building this biennium, where the staircases provide numerous workout opportunities throughout the day. Here is a quick roundup of some notable items from early this 2015 session in St. Paul, including the fast-track passage of a bill to help Minnesota taxpayers.
The bill is important because it matches Minnesota’s tax code with some of the federal tax changes made since 2013. The changes are effective for all 2014 tax returns and, in total, provide $19.9 million in immediate tax relief to hardworking Minnesotans. This includes:
Higher education tuition deduction
$2.1 million in fiscal year 2015; about 9,000 returns; $70 average tax decrease
Educator classroom expenses deduction
$1.2 million in fiscal year 2015; about 60,000 returns, $20 average tax decrease
$4.6 million in fiscal year 2015; about 60,000 returns; $75 average tax decrease
Mortgage insurance premiums deduction
Click here for the complete House bill.
Another bill receiving urgent attention provides flood relief to many areas of Minnesota – including Wright and Hennepin counties in our District 29A – following damage suffered last June and July. This $17 million package cancels previously enacted but unspent dollars from past natural disaster bills and includes $2.2 million in new spending.
Some bills I personally am advocating would make Minnesota a more friendly state to operate a small business, provide incentive for physical fitness and make improvements in the area of long-term care. Look for more details regarding these in future updates.
I also am closely monitoring transportation issues. The Senate recently unveiled plans to raise our taxes by around $1 billion annually. It includes 6.5 percent sales tax on wholesale gas, a 1-cent metro sales tax increase and higher car registration fees. Roughly one third of their proposed tax increase would be eligible for use on metro-centric projects like light rail trains.
We would be better served sticking to our priorities – roads and bridges throughout the state – instead of turning to yet another tax increase that could be funneled toward building urban excesses. Enough revenue can be dedicated to transportation purposes without resorting to a tax increase. State and federal taxes already run 47 cents per gallon of gas in Minnesota.
Please email me your thoughts on how we should approach transportation from a budgeting standpoint. On a related note, discussions are ongoing regarding improvement projects on a pair of heavily traveled roads in our area – highways 55 and 12.
Please stay in touch throughout the session by emailing me at email@example.com. The consistent input I receive from local citizens is very helpful; one of my favorite teachers, Pete, I expect to hear from you soon! I encourage any District 29A residents to please let me know in advance if you would like to arrange a meeting with me at the Capitol.