The Minnesota House passed $1.35 billion in tax cuts Thursday for Social Security recipients, business property owners, farmers, residents with school loans, parents with children, first time homebuyers, wealthy heirs, smokers and a host of other groups.
"Minnesotans got left behind. They are the ones who created this surplus," said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, referring to the $1.65 billion surplus lawmakers have at their disposal as they craft a two-year budget. "We want to make sure that Minnesotans share in the prosperity. And we think it’s the best thing we can do with the money being provided us is reinvest back in Minnesotans," Daudt said.
The DFL minority offered a series of amendments that would strip out an estate tax cut and move the money to tax reductions for families, a tuition freeze for college students, prekindergarten and other priorities.
Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, chairman of the Taxes Committee and main author of the bill, defended the inheritance tax cut: "I consider the estate tax an evil tax. You’ve already been taxed on this, and now you’re dead and we’re going to tax you again. That’s not very Minnesota nice," he said.
Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, the DFL minority leader, said in a statement, "Instead of putting Minnesotans first, Republicans are prioritizing tax cuts for businesses and the rich and well-connected.”
The most expensive provisions would increase the amount of Social Security income that would not be taxable; make the first $200,000 of a commercial or industrial building not subject to the statewide property tax; eliminate an automatic increase tied to inflation in the statewide business property tax; and, reduce property taxes on farmers.
The Senate is considering its own tax cut bill that would be $900 million and would include a reduction in the lowest tax bracket from 5.35 percent to 5.15 percent and eventually 5 percent.