The 2018 Session kicked off on Tuesday it will be a brief, but busy one as we must conclude by May 21st. The two-year budget was passed last session along with a sizeable bonding bill that prioritized roads and key infrastructure projects. The second year of a biennium, traditionally, is a “bonding year” where the biggest issue is putting together a bonding bill for the entire state – we passed one last session because the previous legislature had failed to pass one in 2016.
During the 2017 Legislative Session, we passed the first meaningful tax relief for Minnesotans in nearly two decades. My House colleagues and I worked hard to deliver significant tax relief and ultimately passed into law $650 million in tax relief for Minnesota families over the next two years, and $790 million in 2020-2021. Specific relief includes:
• Nearly 284,000 senior citizen tax returns (single and married filing jointly) will receive tax reductions; 72,000 of those will no longer pay state income tax on their social security benefits.
• A family of four making $50,000 a year will receive an additional $1,200 toward their child care expenses.
• 65,000 students will receive an average of a $414 reduction in their taxes through a new tax credit for student loan payments.
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 passed by Congress and enacted into law have resulted in long overdue changes to the U.S. Tax Code. However, tax reform at the federal level is only one aspect of the taxes we pay. In Minnesota, that means we must pass a tax conformity bill this legislative session to address all the changes filers will see when filing their 2018 taxes. Changes made to Minnesota law now will save headaches and dollars for thousands of Minnesotans come tax season next year.
We also must get to the bottom of the MNLARS debacle. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety rolled out their new computer system, MNLARS, in 2017. It was immediately fraught with problems as thousands of Minnesotans couldn't renew tabs and other basic functions of government. After 10 years of development and almost $100 million, they are now saying an additional $43 million will be required to fix the problems.
This is an unrealistic request and Minnesota taxpayers should not be saddled with the bill to clean up the mess. During this upcoming session, we must determine who is responsible and make sure they are held accountable so this does not happen again.
My priorities this session will be focused on completing the work I began the last session. Chief among them will be getting the Veteran Home built in Bemidji; we made good progress building support for this project during the 2017 session and I am hopeful we can build on that this session.
In the Public Safety realm, I will continue to champion legislation that will protect victims and potential victims by punishing and holding sexual predators responsible for their actions. I will also push legislation that will protect nurses and other emergency personnel from assaults.
Finally, I will push to find funding to help fix the one-room schoolhouse in the northwest angle. I had the opportunity to travel to the Angle Inlet School last year and the members of the Capital Investment Committee heard testimony from school officials on the condition of the school. We all came away knowing we can and should dedicate funds to make needed repairs and improvements to this school.
- Rep. Matt Grossell, R - Clearbrook
House District 02A