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Legislative News and Views - Rep. John Petersburg (R)

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

On June 6, only one bill approved by the legislature remained on Governor Dayton’s desk: a proposal that would have provided $800 million in tax relief to middle class Minnesotans over the next three years.


In the end the governor chose to do nothing with it, which in essence resulted in a pocket veto.


The tax relief plan targeted hundreds of thousands of residents. This included parents through the expansion of the working family tax credit and the childcare tax credit; Main Street business owners with the repeal of the commercial-industrial property tax off their first $100,000 of property value - which was expected to save the average business owner roughly $1,000 a year; farmers with some property tax relief from school bond levies; and college graduates with a student loan tax credit. 


The final vote in the Republican-led house was 123-10 in favor, and it was approved 55-12 in the DFL-led Senate. That’s 89 percent support from the entire legislature, which is why many lawmakers were surprised the governor vetoed the proposal.


But let’s be clear, just because the governor made this choice does not mean we have gridlock at the State Capitol.


Yes, we do debate heavily and make our points, but that doesn’t mean we don’t support legislation. The high number of votes for the tax relief bill was proof that the House and Senate struck a very good compromise. Most lawmakers agree we need tax relief, along with long term transportation funding and a capital investment bill, and if we see those proposals again in the future they will likely receive large, favorable vote totals.


The media has attempted to portray the latest Capitol happenings as conflict among people who don’t like each other and refuse to compromise. That’s simply not the case. The facts show that Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate are working towards the same goals, and in some cases, are voting overwhelmingly in favor of the compromise proposals being presented to them.


Governor Dayton made the decision to veto taxes legislation that received more bipartisan support than any other over the past 30 years. It’s my hope that he will soon call a special session to fix the issues he had with that proposal, and allow us to continue our work on transportation funding and bonding plans that are also expected to receive significant bipartisan support.