The first of a number of finance bills arrived on the House floor and passed Thursday. First was the tax reform package which passed on an 80-54 bipartisan vote.
The largest part of the $1.35 billion in reforms is a $270 million reduction in state income taxes collected on seniors Social Security retirement benefits.
I have authored several bills to end Minnesota’s status as one of a few states which still hit seniors hard with state income taxes on Social Security benefits. The current proposal in the House tax reform bill would be a major breakthrough for seniors.
$203 million in state general property tax reductions is also targeted directly at small businesses. That provision exempts the first $200,000 of property market value from being subject to the state general tax and also freeze its automatic inflator.
Along with provisions benefiting taxpayers throughout Minnesota the package also includes proposals I authored that are specific to the district. One proposal would increase the payment in lieu of taxes on county and state tax forfeited lands.
Our counties and townships provide roads, law enforcement, fire and ambulance services to the public properties in their jurisdiction. To lessen the property tax load on the rest of the property owners, the state provides an annual payment in lieu of taxes for those services. That has been stuck at $1.50 per acre for far too long. My proposal would provide a modest increase to $2 per acre.
Another of my initiatives would end an unnecessary and unfair state mandate on assessor accreditation requirements. I also moved forward language required to allow the Garrison, Kathio, West Mille Lacs Sanitary District to implement the local use sales tax authorized by a referendum vote by the citizens of the sanitary district.
We also passed an environment and natural resources finance bill. The bill reforms the funding process for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) by improving transparency. The permitting process at both the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the MPCA was also improved.
Some other reforms in the bill include:
Look for more news on finance bills. Transportation and K-12 education finance bills are on the floor today for passage.