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Rep. Tony Jurgens viewpoint: House budget has $1.35B in tax relief

Tony Jurgens

Minnesota House Republicans have unveiled their budget targets for the upcoming biennium, and I'm pleased with a number of the priorities.

With a budget surplus of $1.6 billion, I've been looking forward to seeing a plan with some meaningful tax relief. Not only do we have that here, but there's also more money for roads and bridges and K-12 education.

There are a number of provisions that will provide tax relief to middle-class Minnesotans. The single largest feature in the bill is the $269 million in relief for Minnesota's senior citizens by increasing the income limit at which Social Security income is taxable, which will help those seniors living on a fixed income.

It also provides refundable student loan and college saving plan credits for college students and their families and expanded education deductions and child and dependent care credits for working families.

The tax bill would also eliminate an extra property tax on small businesses up to their first $200,000 of commercial/industrial property, ends the autopilot increases the law applies to this tax, and establishes a property tax credit for farmers that reduces their disproportionate share of school district debt service by 50 percent.

In the area of transportation, the House is looking to invest $450 million into road and bridge infrastructure throughout the state by redirecting existing transportation-related funding streams to the Transportation Priorities Fund. This includes existing taxes on auto repairs, auto rentals, the Motor Vehicle Lease Sales Tax, some of the existing tax on auto parts, and a new $75 surcharge on electric vehicles.

There's also $1 billion in general-fund serviced Trunk Highway bonds spread over the next four years, $300 million in one-time Corridors of Commerce funding in fiscal year 2018, and $200 million per year in general obligation bonding for transportation and $35 million for rail grade crossings, including one near Treasure Island.

In K-12 education, the big news is a proposed $1.1 billion in new money being proposed by House Republicans. Over the past few months I have heard from officials in both South Washington County and Hastings schools about the need for new revenue, and this funding infusion would certainly begin to address that need.

In the coming days, these proposals will be debated before their respective House committees and eventually make their way to the House floor for a yes or no vote. I will be sure to keep you updated on their progress.

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