It was nice to meet with a Milroy school group that visited the Capitol this week.
Greetings as we wrap up another busy week in the 2018 session. The House has been focusing on conducting votes for supplemental budget bills all week, including on an omnibus tax bill. Here is more on that and other jottings from St. Paul:
Tax bill approved
The House on Monday passed bipartisan tax legislation which aims to simplify Minnesota’s tax code and provide additional tax relief to middle-class Minnesotans. The legislation also delivers the first income tax rate cut for Minnesotans in nearly two decades by reducing the second tier income tax rate.
We’re really looking forward to that dovetailing with the federal tax bill and finding a way we can encourage business development, encourage development in our state. That’s exceptionally important and we put those things first. There is a lot of tax relief across the board, across the spectrum for folks in all tiers of the taxpayer range and we’re really looking forward to the fruits this tax bill produces out in the countryside as we grow jobs and grow our rural economy.
Without the House reforms, conforming to the federal tax code would cause nearly 970,000 filers to pay more. Instead, the House bill delivers the first income tax cut in nearly 20 years and more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers will benefit from a tax cut in tax year 2018.
In contrast to the House’s legislation to simplify and reduce taxes, an analysis conducted by the Minnesota Department of Revenue shows that tax changes proposed in Gov. Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget would raise taxes on Minnesotans of every income level, and make Minnesota's tax code more regressive.
MnDOT’s metro-centric plan
It was displeasing to see Tuesday’s announcement that MnDOT is awarding $469 million to fund four Corridors of Commerce program projects near the Twin Cities. Elk River and St. Michael sites are the deepest in “Greater Minnesota” set to receive funding.
I’m really disappointed in the list they came up with. I really felt we had a lot of strong projects in southwest Minnesota, in rural Minnesota in general: Highway 23, Highway 212, the overpasses in Marshall. I really feel they didn’t get the fair shake they deserved with the department. This metro-centric thinking that we’re dealing with here on ditch mowing, on buffers and the rest, now it seems to be playing through with the awarding of the dollars here with the Corridors of Commerce program.
Thank you to all the people who have worked so hard, especially those on the Highway 23 Coalition that have worked so hard in conjunction with each other and in partnership with each other to come with a unified voice moving forward on the projects that are important to southwest Minnesota. I appreciate the work they’re doing but we’ve got more work do to, obviously.
Sulfates bill update
I mentioned last week that the House passed a bipartisan bill that would put new energy and focus on protecting Minnesota’s natural wild rice resources. The Senate also passed that bill this week and now a conference committee has met to reconcile differences between House and Senate language.
The bill directs both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources to refocus their efforts on protecting, enhancing and, where appropriate, restoring natural wild rice beds in Minnesota. The 1973 sulfate standard based upon field observations from the the 1930s and 1940s is obsolete and has not been enforced. Also, if applied today, the standard would create millions of dollars in unwarranted costs to rural municipal waste water treatment plants across Minnesota.
Our bill would establish a reasonable, enforceable rule, something the MPCA has been unable to accomplish in the more than seven years it has been working on this project.
Look for more news as we head down the final stretch of the 2018 session and, as always, your thoughts and ideas are welcome.