The summer’s second special session of the Minnesota Legislature resumes at 10 am today. A proposal to improve special levy equalization is being considered as part of a deal.
After a feisty start last week, both the House DFL and Senate GOP decided to adjourn for a week so leaders could try to work out a deal on police reforms and the Governor’s peacetime emergency powers in order to unlock a bonding and tax bill that most legislators are eager to deliver on as they head to the November election.
As of Sunday night there was no word of a global deal that would bring this special session to a productive close.
Leaders announced they intend to include several tax provisions in the bonding bill. One tax provision would be an improvement to Tiers 1 & 2 operating referendum equalization.
Many rural school districts have converted most, if not all, of their operating referendum authority over to the Local Optional Revenue program and therefore the new equalization doesn’t benefit property taxpayers in their districts.
MREA lobbied unsuccessfully to get Cooperative Facilities levy authority and Enhanced Debt Service Equalization for newly consolidating schools districts included in this package. The $16 million annual spend on the new equalization program would have easily covered the $1.5 million in levy and aid impacts associated with these two proposals.
The bonding/tax bill may not come to fruition, but failing to include these items in this bill is a missed opportunity for rural legislators to address smaller, yet important facility needs for rural education.