Hello from the State Capitol:
This week, Minnesota House leadership offered legislation that will not only help our state conform to changes with the federal tax relief law but would also provide some additional middle-class tax relief. In all, more than 2.1 million Minnesota filers would see an income tax decrease in tax year 2018.
Specifically the proposal would help the middle class keep more of what they earn by cutting the second tier income tax rate. The bill would also lower taxes for people in all income levels by increasing the standard deduction from $13,000 to $14,000; preserve a state personal and dependent exemption of $4,150; and allow a state-itemized deduction of up to $30,000 in property taxes.
The proposal itself is quite comprehensive, and Governor Dayton and the House actually see eye to eye on a number of provisions within the bill. But we also have differences to reconcile. As you’ll recall, last week the governor’s revenue department found that his proposal would raise taxes on Minnesotans in every income bracket and reinstate more than $1 billion in health care tax increases.
One Democratic lawmaker who serves on the taxes committee told me he’s optimistic we’ll find a workable solution by session’s end, and hopefully that’s the case.
On a strong bipartisan vote, the Minnesota House approved a supplemental education funding bill yesterday that puts student safety first. It gives school districts the flexibility to decide how to use new resources in order to best meet the needs of its school and its students. Hiring more school resources officers, upgrading buildings, providing mental health programming, and adopting school-based threat assessment teams are among the choices for school leaders.
The bill also included legislation I’m authoring that addresses lunch shaming in schools. My proposal would strengthen the current law that’s in place by specifically prohibiting that practice.
You’ll recall a school employee in Stewartville tossed a student’s meal in the garbage because of a negative school lunch balance, blatantly ignoring state law that was supposed to prevent this shaming from happening. Hopefully this provision will convince lunchroom employees from thinking twice before embarrassing a student that doesn’t have money to pay for a meal.
On Friday I joined the commissioners of the administration and veterans affairs departments along with Senator Bigham for a tour of the Minnesota Veterans Home in Hastings.
The purpose was to highlight the need to make needed improvements at the facility.
There’s no doubt that veterans in our state our underserved, and that the need for new veterans’ homes across this state exists. But it’s also critical that lawmakers don’t forget their responsibility to properly maintain our current buildings such as the veterans’ home in Hastings. This goes beyond asset preservation, as deferred maintenance is leaving this facility in an alarming condition. Taking action now before the problems worsen and costs increase is the least we can do for those who bravely fought for our freedoms.
I also joined State Representatives Roz Peterson and Dario Anselmo on a tour of the Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul. The school serves students in grades 6 through 12 with a science, mathematics and technology focus. It was interesting to learn that among the 2,100 students, 42 different languages are spoken and statistics show that 90 percent of them will pursue technology careers or vocational education. Great things are being done here.
Among the visitors to the State Capitol this week was constituent Dave Peterson, who is a fellow Knights of Columbus member. Interesting side note: his sister Kathy Lohmer is a former Hastings resident and a current state representative representing the Stillwater area.
Have a good weekend,