Adjusting Targets to Provide Bonding and Tax Relief by Senator Jason Rarick
A few weeks ago, a bonding bill came to the senate floor, but failed to get the Republican votes necessary to pass. This happened for a number of reasons: no movement towards tax relief, the bill was unbalanced, and frankly it wasn’t ready for a vote this early in Session. Unfortunately, after that bill was struck down, Senate Democrats pulled every Republican bill from the Bonding committee’s schedule and have still not heard a single Republican bill since. This has resulted in over 140 Democrat bonding projects being heard in the last few weeks. And these projects are being heard for a second bill that is completely independent from the one we already voted on.
Senate Republicans are not against bonding—in fact, many of us have been strong supporters of bonding bills because we understand they are the driving force behind investments in our state’s infrastructure. This year, we simply wanted a bonding bill to be paired with tax relief. With a historic $17.5 billion surplus like we have, there’s no reason we can’t provide tax relief alongside a bonding bill that makes needed investments throughout the state.
In an attempt to find common ground and put forward a bipartisan solution, Senate Republicans recently offered an adjustment to the targets, which would allow us to provide the tax relief Minnesotans have asked for, alongside a bonding bill that will provide key investments in our infrastructure. Our proposal shifts a cash bonding target to a general obligation bond target, essentially freeing up $1.9 billion to invest in other areas. This important shift in funding will deliver tax relief, a bonding bill that invests in infrastructure, and will provide support to Minnesotans struggling to find long-term care.
The proposal specifically addresses four key areas: tax relief, agriculture, long-term care, and bonding. By shifting this funding, we can ensure that we have a comprehensive bonding bill, with the added funding being earmarked specifically for local roads and bridges. Our plan also focuses on adding funds to the agriculture budget, to make needed investments in a green fertilizer program and a soil health program. We have also been hearing about the staffing crisis that has hit our state’s long-term care facilities—our plan would allocate funding to the Human Services budget, allowing us to provide additional support to this industry. Most importantly, this proposal will shift an additional $1.145 billion to the tax target, which will cover the full elimination of the tax on social security.
We have been clear all year: there needs to be movement on tax relief before a bonding bill can be passed. I’m hopeful that this proposal will yield positive results because it truly is a win-win. There is a clear interest on both sides to get this done for Minnesota, and I believe this proposal provides a bipartisan path to doing so.