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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe McDonald (R)

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Capitol report

Friday, May 04, 2018

House Image

The spectacular Capitol chandelier was aglow as the House met well into the night.

Greetings,

The Legislature is now a little more than two weeks away from adjournment and the House has been focusing on bringing supplemental budget bills to the floor for votes of the full body.

One of the most noteworthy bills of all was one we approved on Monday to simplify Minnesota’s tax code and provide additional middle-class tax relief by reducing the second tier income tax rate.

This is a good tax bill, as you can see by the bipartisan support it generated while passing with 90 votes in the House. The first income tax rate reduction in two decades is very attractive, especially when the governor’s alternative approach to a supplemental budget would raise taxes on households of all income levels. Our main mission in the House is to both simplify and reduce taxes and this bill helps accomplish those benefits.

Without the House reforms, conforming to the federal tax code would cause nearly 970,000 filers to pay more. Instead, the House bill delivers for more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers who will benefit from a tax cut in tax year 2018.

Highlights include:

  • Helping middle-class Minnesotans keep more of what they earn by cutting the second tier income tax rate from 7.05 percent to 6.75 percent 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 for all filers.
  • 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.

This bill is far different from the tax changes proposed in Gov. Mark Dayton. Overall, an analysis conducted by the Minnesota Department of Revenue shows his supplemental budget would raise taxes on Minnesotans of every income level.

The House also recently approved a bipartisan package of education-related measures, a number of which focused on student safety. Our goal is to provide crucial resources and flexibility for schools to address their particular student safety and mental health needs. Each school district in Minnesota has its own unique set of circumstances and this bill allows local residents and school districts tailor solutions to meet their needs.

Highlights of this bill include:

  • School resource officers, student support personnel, and other school security programs funded through increased Safe Schools revenue, including a floor level of funding for small schools
  • School building security upgrades, and expanded use of Long-Term Facility Maintenance revenue for security projects, including emergency communications systems
  • School-linked mental health programming to ensure better outcomes for all kids
  • Physical security audit grants to provide state assistance to review facility security and crisis management policies
  • Suicide prevention training for teachers to help educators learn how to engage and assist students experiencing mental distress
  • School-based threat assessment teams established to assess, intervene, and report threats facing students, teachers, and staff

The education package also seeks to strengthen and clarifies the law surrounding teacher misconduct, such as prohibiting the issuance or renewal of a teaching/administrative licenses and bus driver endorsements for those convicted of certain felonies or gross misdemeanors involving a minor.

On a final note, the House continues to prioritize roads and bridges this year, after passing legislation in 2017 that made the largest transportation investment in state history without raising taxes. A bill the House approved this week uses surplus funds leveraged with trunk highway bonds to put $385 million more toward transportation needs this year.

Stay tuned as we work our way toward adjournment. I will keep you posted as best I can down the stretch and, as always, your feedback is welcome.

Regards,

Joe

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