With two weeks left in this legislative session, there’s a deep sense that lawmakers won’t come to terms on the tax conformity bill and therefore a supplemental spending bill and potentially the bonding bill will fail to emerge.
The supplemental budget conference committee has yet to be named, but will likely emerge Monday with perhaps a public meeting early this week.
Gov. Mark Dayton upped the ante last week by calling for $138 million in ‘emergency school aid’ to help school districts stave off budget cuts. The GOP response was cool to dismissive. They’re not happy about this curveball being thrown into the mix so late in the process. However, as Governor Dayton indicated, he wasn’t thrilled about some of the high stakes provisions the GOP majorities put into their tax conformity bills either.
Some of those tax provisions include permanent income tax rate reductions, and conforming to the federal estate tax and 529 plan changes that many on the left see as giveaways to the wealthy at the expense of needed state funds for public schools and human services.
The Senate Tax proposal that would trigger tax cuts should the state’s November budget forecast show a surplus could wreak havoc on the budget and the ability of schools to see formula increases in the years to come. Gov. Dayton reiterated his resolve to leave the state with ‘structural balance’ when he leaves office.
The pension bill is expected to come out of a necessary House committee on Monday and hopefully will survive the process.
The tax committees in the House and Senate will debate a constitutional amendment that would dedicate hundreds of millions in auto part sales tax revenues to road and bridge projects this week.
Some of the union trade groups are supporting this proposal, while many labor groups oppose it because it will create a permanent hole in the state’s general fund, making it difficult to fund education and health and human services when revenues get tight.
School district and many local government groups oppose the proposal as well. MREA has joined with the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities to add a public voice across the state in this discussion. Look for our joint letter to the editor calling on the legislature to stand down on this proposal. If you haven’t added your voice to this discussion with your legislators, now is the time.