Dayton signs four bills for tax cuts and spending
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed the four big tax-cut and spending bills passed by the Legislature last week.
During a Capitol news conference that resembled a Democratic-Farmer-Labor campaign rally, Dayton pronounced the legislative session that ended Friday a huge success. “It was more progress than I’ve ever seen in a legislative session,” he said with DFL legislative leaders at his side.
The tax bill he signed provides $103 million in tax relief, almost half of it designated for property tax refunds for homeowners, renters and farmers.
Combined with individual income and business sales tax reductions passed earlier this year, Dayton and both parties in the Legislature provided $550 million in tax relief. The governor said more than 2 million families and thousands of businesses will benefit.
Republicans pointed out that last year Dayton and the DFLers increased taxes by $2.1 billion and are giving just a fraction of that money back to taxpayers this year. On Tuesday, they criticized DFLers for increasing state spending by 12 percent during the current two-year budget cycle.
“As the 2014 session ended, Democrats ignored recent budget warnings and continued to commit hardworking taxpayers to unsustainable spending increases, proving their priorities are wrong for Minnesota,” House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said in a statement. “By taking dollars out of the economy to pay for the historic increase in spending, Minnesotans will have fewer opportunities to find good-paying jobs.”
Dayton said the bulk of the 2013 tax increases were on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans, while this year’s tax cuts were aimed mostly at middle-income families.
“The reality is that most Minnesota families will see their overall tax bill going down, thanks to our budget,” said House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis.
In addition to the tax bill, Dayton signed an $846 million bonding bill plus a $199 million appropriation for public works construction projects. He estimated those two measures would create 33,000 jobs over the next two years and improve college facilities, parks and roads and revitalize downtown business centers in the state’s largest cities.
The fourth bill was a $262 million appropriation that provides pay raises for home and community-based health caregivers for the elderly and disabled, expands broadband internet access across rural Minnesota, allocates an additional $25 per pupil in state aid to K-12 schools and guarantees a hot school lunch to any student who wanted one but could not afford it.
Dayton said he did not line-item veto a single appropriation in any of the four bills.
The Legislature adjourned Friday, three days before its constitutional deadline.
“Thanks for the weekend,” Dayton said to the lawmakers.
He has two weeks from the end of the session to sign or veto about 30 remaining bills, including a measure legalizing medical marijuana and another to bar the state lottery from selling online scratch-off tickets. Dayton said he supports the legislation granting access to marijuana for terminally ill patients and those with any of eight serious medical conditions, but he hasn’t decided whether he’ll approve the lottery bill.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.