Finance legislation on the state table
Published 8:21 am Monday, May 7, 2018
This week, we are hearing and voting on numerous pieces of omnibus finance legislation and a tax conformity bill as we draw nearer to the end of session on May 21. Here are some other updates from the Capitol:
On Monday, the House passed a tax conformity bill to modify Minnesota’s tax code after changes were made at the federal level last year. Gov. Dayton released his proposal a couple weeks ago, which was specifically targeted toward providing cuts for Minnesota families and $186 million in cuts for farmers and businesses.
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One of the most significant changes is to move tax from Federal Taxable Income (FTI) to Federal Adjusted Gross Income (FAGI). There are a couple of provisions that help farmers and small businesses including Section
179 Expensing and the Angel Tax Credit, which authorizes $10 million in small business investment tax credits. The Governor and House share some key elements that will keep filing as simple as possible in coming years. I supported this bill and look forward to seeing a final tax conformity after this bill and the Senate bill are conferenced.
Ag Finance Omnibus
The Ag Finance bill was merged into a larger omnibus package containing finance bills from state government, environment/natural resources, and jobs/energy/housing. The large package of legislation passed the house on Thursday.
A bill I sponsored is included in it, providing funding for farm advocates who provide assistance for farmers facing crises caused by financial problems or natural disasters. It also authorizes the hiring of a second rural mental health counselor, which is a valuable resource for farmers and their families under the strain of difficult markets and low commodity prices. Unfortunately, there were a number of highly controversial provisions which already are raising concerns with the Governor and are considered “veto bait.” I look forward to seeing a reasonable final supplemental finance bill after negotiations with the House, Senate, and Governor.
Emergency School Aid
On Tuesday, Gov. Dayton announced a proposal to provide $138 million in emergency aid to school districts around Minnesota.
Many districts are facing budget deficits and cuts that threaten the quality education our kids deserve. Area School Districts would receive funding under this proposal.
Austin Public School District
Hayfield Public School District
Grand Meadow Public School District
LeRoy-Ostrander Public Schools
Southland Public School District
Lyle Public School District
Bonding Bill Released
We had our first look at the 2018 House bonding (public construction) bill Wednesday evening. There are a couple local projects including funding for our regional public television station, KSMQ, to build its own site. Riverland Community College would receive their request to fund remodeling and realigning the Albert Lea campus to accommodate the Transportation, Trade, and Industrial Education Center.
There is $20 million to DNR for flood mitigation projects and $120 million in Public Facilities Authority for water infrastructure.
Additionally, the bill authorizes $35 million in bonding to fund the Rural Finance Authority’s loan program. The RFA is a valuable resource for both farmers and lenders across the state so securing this funding is a positive result. The RFA funding bill is also traveling separately.
Visitors at the Capitol
Visitors this week included a number of people from the Izaak Walton League chapter in Austin. They participated in Clean Water Day at the Capitol. Thank you to them and all the other visitors for stopping by!
Minnesota Budget Website Named One of the Best in U.S.
A report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund named Minnesota’s budget website third in the nation.
Metrics used to determine the ranking a state receives include accessible information on state spending and the ease-of-use. Making it easy for residents of a state to track its spending is good governance and this is a valuable resource for the people of Minnesota. You cancheck out the website here.
As we approach the end of session, please continue to reach out with your ideas and input on legislative matters.