Letter: Legislator reflects on session's wrapup
By District 22A Rep. Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne
On May 16, the Minnesota House of Representatives completed its work and adjourned for the remainder of the year. A number of provisions were approved during the final week. It often seems as if the most important bills of session are approved when the end is in sight, and this year was no exception.
By a 131-0 vote, the Minnesota House approved legislation that addresses taxation in our state. Included is $45 million in property tax relief through increases in the homestead credit refund, the renter property tax refund and an increase in the agricultural homestead market value credit. This bill also extends the military pay income tax subtraction for National Guard members who serve in active guard/reserve status, and it also included $45 million in bonding authority that will help complete the Lewis and Clark water pipeline to southwestern Minnesota.
To further address the remaining budget surplus, the legislature also approved a supplemental budget bill that spends another $283 million in a variety of state government programs. This is problematic because the spending increases are permanent, and are projected to cost Minnesota $842 million in the next budget cycle.
A more balanced approach to allocating the surplus funds would have been better for the state. Focusing on funding priorities like nursing homes and group homes should have come first. The legislative majority and Governor Dayton permanently increased the size of government by more than $3 billion just last year. Our state cannot sustain this significant spending growth outside of our priorities, and if revenue projections continue to decline as they have over the past three months, these decisions will lead to another era of budget deficits.
Two capital investment bills were also approved, one which borrows funds and another that pays cash for construction projects throughout the state — such as Lewis and Clark. A medical marijuana proposal was also passed on the final day of session by an 89-40 vote in the House.