With their first budget-related bill of the session, Minnesota Senate Republicans unanimously passed a tax increase onto all Minnesota property taxpayers on Thursday. State Senator Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said he was proud that 27 Senate Democrats stood together in opposition of higher costs for working Minnesotans by voting against this egregious bill.
“The first budget bill of the session didn’t solve the state’s budget at all. It slapped together harsh cuts to the people who can least afford it, taking hard-earned money out of their pockets and adding it to the state’s bottom line,” Sen. Dibble said.
Part of the budget fix reduces the state’s Renters’ Property Tax Credit, taking $106 million directly out of the pockets of more than 300,000 rental households in Minnesota. The non-partisan Department of Revenue estimates 19,000 households no longer will be eligible to receive the credit, and the average refund for remaining recipients will be reduced by $170.
“That’s a $170 tax increase on every renter in Minnesota,” Sen. Dibble said. “We’re not just talking college students; about one-third of those who receive this credit are elderly or disabled. I’ve received letters from Minnesotans who rely on this refund to buy their children’s clothing, make car repairs, or obtain medical procedures. This is a direct hit to Main Street businesses where renters shop. It’s appalling that Republicans would add this kind of burden to Minnesota renters at a time when more families than ever are renting.”
Sen. Dibble also said he was disappointed that this bill will simply continue the recent trend of Minnesota’s tax burden falling most heavily on lower- and middle-income families rather than being fairly distributed among all income levels.
“In the past five years, property taxes have risen three times faster than the Renters’ Credit, meaning those least able to pay continue to be saddled with rising costs and no relief,” Sen. Dibble said. “Without property tax relief programs like the Renters’ Credit, rental property taxes would be seven times more regressive than general taxes. It’s clear we need to work to retain the integrity of this program, not dismantle it as the Republicans are attempting to do.”
Sen. Dibble added, “Perhaps most disturbing about this bill is that the people we are hurting – the elderly residents on fixed incomes; those with disabilities in assisted living; the college students working to pay for school – didn’t have an opportunity to have their voices heard. This bill was rushed through the legislature without proper committee hearings. The new Senate majority is going out of its way to prevent hard-working people from having the chance to participate in the process. I sincerely hope this isn’t how the rest of the legislative session will play out.”