By Rep. Chris Swedzinski
The major tax relief and historic investment in roads and bridges we achieved last year will fuel the Legislature to do even more good work during the upcoming 2018 session.
Minnesotans are benefiting from more than $650 million in tax relief we passed for the 2018-19 biennium and will enjoy approximately $750 million in tax relief for 2020-21. That includes relief for seniors on social security, college graduates with student loan debt, and property tax relief for farmers and Minnesota businesses.
We also brought about the largest investment in road and bridge infrastructure in state history in 2017, providing billions over the next decade for transportation without increasing the gas tax or tab fees. The bill provides $300 million more in transportation funding this biennium alone.
Also of note, we the K-12 education budget we set provides more than $1.3 billion in increased funding, 2 percent more to the per-pupil formula each of the next two years as our school districts requested.
Those achievements were all part of the budget-setting process, which occurs in odd-numbered years. Our attention will turn to other issues this session, including consideration of a bill to fund construction projects all around our state. In order to receive the broad support necessary for passage, a bonding bill will need to feature geographic balance and focus on maintaining existing infrastructure and roads/bridges. Area projects could be in the mix, so stay tuned.
Another issue we will be addressing this year is tax conformity to bring our state up to speed following sweeping recent changes at the federal level. Our goal will be to hold Minnesota taxpayers harmless as we adjust to those federal changes.
The Legislature also will be working to fix the faltering Minnesota Licensing and Registration System for motor vehicles. The botched MNLARS rollout has caused frustration and headaches across the state. Minnesota taxpayers have paid nearly $100 million over 10 years for MN system and now the Department of Public Safety wants $43 million more. This is inexcusable and must be corrected.
This May brings to an end the moratorium I successfully placed on changing permitting standards for mowing and baling in ditches along Minnesota’s state roadways. MnDOT has been studying the issue and hosting public meetings around the state – including in Marshall last October – and soon will report its findings to the Legislature. I will continue advocating for the people of Greater Minnesota to ensure their sentiments are honored on this issue.