A legislative panel has begun hammering out the details for a special session aimed at providing disaster relief for a number of Minnesota counties.
A total of 20 counties may receive aid after storms last June and ice last winter caused an estimated $18 million in damage. The state would cover 25 percent of this price tag and receive a 75-percent match from the federal government. Most of the storm damage took place in western, central and southern portions of the state. Public hearings are taking place to help put a bill in place.
This will be the only item on the agenda for the special session, which should be completed in one day.
I am among those who hoped we would be able to slightly expand the agenda to fix some of the tax-increase mistakes Gov. Mark Dayton said he and fellow Democrats made last session.
New taxes on farm machinery repair, warehousing and telecommunications are particularly burdensome. The negative impacts they are likely to bring our economy is very concerning. Taxes on repairs are likely to hit family farmers especially hard since they often operate on a relatively thin margin.
A recent Star Tribune article included this very telling quote:
“All I see are taxes coming at us,” said David Werner, a farmer from Montevideo. “How can we say the DFL is representing us when they are slapping taxes on the ag related programs they never taxed before?”
There is bipartisan support to repeal all three of the aforementioned new taxes. The governor publicly opened the door to repealing at least some of the “very bad mistake” tax increases. But, in the end, he and Democrat leaders failed to take immediate action by including this work in the special session.
Reports indicate the tax on machinery repair will cost farmers $2 million per month. This added cost will compound issues caused by a difficult growing season. A late, cool spring was followed by a cool summer. Now, the vast majority of Minnesota is abnormally dry.
Our farmers – and hardworking taxpayers in general – deserved to have this damage undone during the special session. I now look forward to doing all I can to help Dayton and the Democrats fix their tax mistakes during the 2014 session, which starts in February.
I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend.
All my best,