Senate DFLers stood unified for a number of tax bill amendments this week all aimed at the same goals: more tax relief for middle-income Minnesotans, converting expensive tax cuts for the wealthy into more money for K-12 school safety, and long-term budget stability.
Senate DFL members offered several amendments to provide tax relief for middle-income Minnesotans. One amendment would divert the estate tax cut funds to the Working Family Credit program. The Republican bills gives an $82 million estate tax cut to just 350 Minnesotans with large inheritances. Minnesotans expect more. Investing in the Working Family Credit provides more tax relief for more working families. The Working Family Credit offsets a portion of the significant state and local taxes that low-and moderate-income people pay. It is a proven program that encourages and supports work, helps working families across the state, and is one of the best tools the Legislature has to lift families out of poverty.
School safety is a priority for the Senate DFL. An amendment was offered to convert expensive estate tax cuts into more money for K-12 school safety. This amendment would convert the existing safe-school levy to an all-aid program, make charter schools eligible, and increase amount of pass-through revenue available to districts – all in the name of safe schools funding. These dollars are specifically earmarked for school counselors, police officers, sheriffs, gang-resistance education and anti-drug programs, student and staff safety, school nurses and psychologists, chemical defense counselors, and other facility enhancements that all enhance our students’ safety. DFLers know investing in our children’s safety is a better use of state tax dollars than estate tax cuts for a small population of the state’s wealthiest.
The tax cut trigger mechanism in this bill is irresponsible budgeting. This Republican idea would automatically trigger a tax cut and has the potential to cost Minnesota at least $186 million a year. If implemented, this provision will put us on the path to unpredictable finances. Tax cuts and new spending must be balanced in order to protect Minnesota’s economy from future instability. This trigger mechanism is a risky way to budget and a disingenuous way to provide tax relief.
Unfortunately, all the DFL amendments were rejected by Senate Republicans. They used procedural gimmicks when they didn’t want to take a vote or continue to debate tax priorities. This Senate tax bill just simply isn’t real relief for those who need it.