With near unanimous votes, the Minnesota and Senate approved a tax bill to usher in $103 million in tax cuts and enable southwestern Minnesota to fund its portion of a water piping project.

The bill now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.

The measure's tax relief comes in addition to the income and business tax cuts legislators approved a few months ago.

"This is a good bill," Senate Taxes Committee chair Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook.

The tax bill won particular plaudits from Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake.

"I simply want to say: thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous," Hamilton said.

His parched southwestern districts is among those due to benefit from the Lewis and Clark water project, which became a linchpin of this year's legislative session.

Finding $22 million in state funding for the project and developing policy language allowing local governments to raise money to pay their shares caused a melee among lawmakers in the waning hours. But, with just hours to go before expected adjournment, lawmakers and the Dayton administration worked it out.

The measure would enable state government to send out refund checks to Minnesotans shortly before the 2014 session, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen noted during Senate debate.

Under the legislation, about 500,000 homeowners would get a refund on their property taxes with the average refund this year amounting to $837 this year. About 350,000 renters would get a refund as well, with their average coming to about $643. Small businesses and farmers would also see refunds.

"It's amazing what we can do when we work together," said Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa.

Photos: House vote on taxes (top); Senate vote on taxes (lower).


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