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Newman comments on end of session

To The Editor,
Following the conclusion of the 2017 legislative session, a complete state budget has been signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton. The budget, which amounts to $46 billion over the next two years, was a result of lengthy negotiations between the Republican legislature and Democratic governor.
The upcoming state budget represents a true compromise and is in the best interest of the Minnesotans we serve. In particular, this budget is great for rural Minnesota. We put together a comprehensive package that funds valuable, needed programs, and limits the exorbitant increases in government spending as much as possible given the makeup of our government.
The state budget includes a $648 million tax relief package – the largest in nearly two decades – and the biggest transportation infrastructure investment in state history. Many of these provisions are designed for Greater Minnesota, including:
• A new school building bonds agricultural credit – a 40 percent offset for school building levies.
• A permanent, yearly increase to Local Government Aid and County Program Aid.
• A reduction to the statewide property tax through an elimination of the inflator and an exemption up to $100,000 of C/I property value.
• A subtraction for a portion of Social Security benefits subject to state income tax.
• An increase to Minnesota’s estate tax exemption – bringing it to $3 million.
• A beginning farmer tax credit program, which provides additional tools to encourage and support more individuals to be successful in their early years in farming.
In addition, the $18.7 billion education budget raises the per-pupil general education funding by 2 percent in each of the next school years – something that was critically important to rural school districts and teachers. Reforms, including changes to the teacher licensure law and a repeal of the “last in, first out” statute, will afford local school districts more control over the varying needs of their communities.
This really was a historically productive session. We finally were able to provide some tax relief to hardworking families, a true investment in roads and bridges across the state, and reforms that will strengthen our schools. I think the people of Minnesota will be well served by the efforts of this legislative session.
State Sen. Scott Newman