Senator Kent Eken: Legislative Compromise Leads to Big Wins for the Area

Compromise in a divided government works in Minnesota. Democrats, including Gov. Mark Dayton, and the Republican controlled Legislature worked together in the 2017 session to garner some big wins for the region.

We are proud of several provisions passed in the $660 million tax bill which will have a big impact on farmers, small business owners and college students.

The creation of the agricultural bonding property tax credit delivers a 40 percent reduction in property taxes paid for agricultural lands that support bonding initiatives for school districts. This will have a major impact on farmers’ bottom lines and gives rural schools another tool to use when trying to raise capital for school building needs.

The tax bill also provides significant property tax reductions for Main Street businesses and includes $3 million to help our border cities, including Dilworth and Moorhead, to even the playing field with our neighbors in North Dakota. These provisions will go a long way in attracting new businesses and economic development in the region.

The tax bill also helps out our retired friends and neighbors by giving a tax cut to senior citizens who are paying taxes on their Social Security benefits.

Local Government Aid (LGA) was increased by $15 million a year to cities, in addition to a $25 million per year increase to counties through County Program Aid. This funding supports the work of local counties and cities while reducing the property tax burden placed on residents.

Most everyone in Moorhead is familiar with the spaghetti junction happening at the intersection of Main Ave and 20th/21st Streets. For several years we have joined locally elected officials in pushing for a railroad underpass to dramatically increase the safety of the area as oil trains run through town. This session the legislature passed a significant bonding bill that contained $42.3 million to build the underpass. This will help mitigate extreme traffic congestion and address serious safety concerns.

The bonding bill also contained several other key pieces of funding for local infrastructure projects.

  • The Detroit Lakes wastewater treatment facility is now eligible for $18 million through state grant programs due to policy changes and funding included in this year’s bill. This is important because it will reduce fees for residents and businesses in the city as they pay for needed wastewater treatment upgrades.
  • The Halstad flood mitigation project received $3 million which will allow the city to finish the final phase of its crucial levy system.
  • The Heartland Trail received $3.5 million to complete the trail from Detroit Lakes to Frazee. This multi-use trail will help attract more visitors to the region and will help enhance the quality of life for current residents.

We want to thank you – our constituents — for your support, and your correspondence with our offices throughout the session. Hearing from you about what’s important in your community helps shape our work here in St. Paul. We like to hear from you and are always willing to help find a solution to problems, big and small. It’s an honor to serve you in St. Paul. Happy summer!

Senator Kent Eken
Kent Eken represents District 4, which includes portions of Becker, Clay, and Norman counties in the northwestern part of the state.

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