The first week of the 2017 Legislative Session saw Gov. Mark Dayton offer details on some major legislative proposals related to the unfinished business from 2016 including 40 percent credit on the taxes paid on farmland for school bonds.
Commonly referred to as Ag2School, the tax credit shared widespread bi-partisan support in the legislature last session. With Gov. Dayton’s announcement last week, Ag2School is expect to take a prominent position for the new legislative session. View issue brief on Ag2School. View potential impact by school district.
In addition to a $300 million package of tax cuts, the Governor also offered up a $1.5 billion bonding bill and a $300 million insurance premium buy-down for MNSure enrollees. Learn more about the Governor’s proposed tax cuts.
MORE FOR SCHOOLS
Dayton also included $20 million a year to help improve the state’s fledgling Debt Service Equalization (DSE) program. His DSE proposal would target those districts with Tier 2 levels of debt, which are few, but this is a great starting place for a conversation on improving DSE.
MREA estimates that an investment of closer to $50 million a year is needed to improve DSE in line with the recommendations of the School Facilities Task Force recommendations. Improving DSE would help homeowners and commercial properties and, when taken together with Ag2School, makes for a much fairer state share of school facilities.
The first round of bills were introduced last week by the legislature and many dealt with taxes and health insurance. A bill of interest for K-12 schools is HF 27 (Rep. Duane Quam, GOP Byron). It calls for a state constitutional amendment that would allow owners of farm and commercial property to vote on levies in any jurisdiction where they own such property. It’s unclear if this is something the House will consider and move this session, but certainly an issue local governments will need to grapple with.