Senate DFL prioritizes Minnesotans

Republicans passed a sparse tax bill this week that does little to meet the needs of Minnesotans recovering from the pandemic. In addition, because Republicans refused to even discuss raising new revenue to help fund future growth, the vast needs in education, housing, health care, broadband, and transportation are not addressed in any of the Republican budget bills passed during the past two weeks.

Of the total investments in the bill, $600 million was directed at businesses while just $54 million would have benefitted individual Minnesotans. Senate DFLers offered several amendments to raise enough new revenue to support the priorities that will help all Minnesotans recover from the pandemic and build a stronger future.

Full tax relief for unemployed Minnesotans was one of the most glaring omissions in the Republican bill. The federal government has allowed $10,200 in unemployment benefits received last year to be excluded from taxes to help those still recovering from employment changes. The Senate tax bill only provided an 18% subtraction. Senate DFLers offered an amendment to institute a temporary surcharge on net investment earnings over $250,000, affecting just 34,000 of Minnesotans doing the to help more than 550,000 of Minnesotans hit hardest. The amendment was rejected.

Several other amendments using a similar funding source also were rejected by Republicans. The original bill included $100 million in property tax breaks for business properties; Senate DFLers attempted to increase homeowner and renter property tax refunds to provide some parity. That same amendment would have conformed to federal tax changes that help Minnesotans paying off student loans or paying for childcare. Again, the amendment was rejected.

An amendment offering a tax reduction for the more than one million taxpayers in the first and second tax brackets also was rejected, as was an amendment providing an increase in the Working Family Credit for more than 350,000 low- and moderate-income working Minnesotans. Even an amendment providing a full Social Security benefit tax subtraction was voted down.

Republicans consistently said they agreed with many of the ideas offered by the DFL, but they simply did not have enough revenue to pay for those priorities. DFLers offered a responsible method to pay for the needs that past year has so clearly highlighted, so it was not a matter of having the revenue, it was a conversation about who is willing to do the work necessary to make sure those needs are met. The bill now moves to a conference committee, where it will be matched with more robust plans from the House and the governor. (HF 991)