Senate Republicans Unveil Plan to Return Budget Surplus to Minnesota Taxpayers

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Minnesota Senate Republicans unveiled their “Get Your Billion Back” plan Thursday, a package of tax cuts worth more than $1 billion.

Republicans said the proposal is the “marquee piece” of their 2020 Vision agenda, which they announced in January. The idea is to return the state’s estimated $1.3 billion budget surplus back to Minnesota taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and reforms.

“It is time to get your billion back, Minnesota,” Sen. Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes), chairman of the Senate Tax Committee, said in a statement.

“I have met so many people who have told me what a little extra money in their pocket would mean,” he continued. “For some, it will be easier to afford child care, groceries, or medical bills. For others, it means being able to go to a Wild game, a concert, or a long-overdue date night. It’s about security and flexibility for Minnesotans and their families; it’s about giving people the freedom to create their own opportunities and follow their dreams.”

The proposal calls for reducing the bottom income tax rate, completely eliminating taxes on Social Security income, and expanding the K-12 education tax credit. Republicans said Minnesota is one of just 13 states that imposes a Social Security tax on retirees and abolishing the tax will “encourage more seniors to stay in Minnesota after retirement.”

They would also like to see Minnesota fully conform to Section 179 of the federal tax code in order to help farmers and small businesses “grow and invest in their operations by giving them more flexibility to deduct large equipment purchases.”

“Minnesota taxpayers have been funding this state’s unsustainable government growth for far too long,” Sen. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville) said in a statement. “Minnesota has more than enough money to cover our state’s expenses; rather than continue to ask families for more or use our surplus to grow the size of government, let’s give Minnesota families some relief and start to live within our means.”

Other proposals in the plan include reforming school equalization aid to provide property tax relief to property owners in districts with low property wealth, and reallocating more mortgage and deed tax revenue to affordable housing programs.

A final proposals calls for reforming charitable gaming rules so that local charities can keep more of the money they raise from gaming.

Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), the DFL lead on the Senate Tax Committee, called the Republican proposal an “irresponsible tax plan” and said lawmakers should instead focus on “policies that address the rising burden of property taxes and targeted relief that would help small businesses, farmers, and working Minnesotans.” The Senate Republican Caucus responded to her comments by claiming that their plan already addresses all of her concerns.

“The plan released by the Senate Republicans today is just reckless. The proposed tax spending costs the state more than a billion dollars,” she added. “We haven’t even seen the budget forecast to know if this money is available. This is just a wish list.”

Minnesota releases a budget forecast in November and February of each year. The Republican proposal relies on the estimates included in the November forecast since the February forecast has not been released yet.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Minnesota Capitol” by Gabriel Vanslette. CC BY 3.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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