OPINION: Honored to participate in UNCF luncheon
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 4:58 AM
Below are some highlights from last week at the Capitol. They include the Governor's State of the State Address, tax "conformity" and the Health Insurance Exchange bill.
As always, you are key to helping me understand the issues that affect you. I welcome and encourage you to get in touch with me and share your input, comments and concerns at (651) 269-5649 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
State of the State Address
Gov. Mark Dayton delivered his annual State of the State address last Wednesday. He again stressed his plan to raise taxes as a key part of his two-year budget proposal.
The governor's budget relies on $3.6 billion in new taxes, including a broad $2.1 billion expansion of sales tax on new goods and services.
New sales taxes would be imposed on transactions including clothing articles over $100, over the counter drugs, haircuts, auto repair services and a wide range of new business to business services.
Details continue to emerge on the impact of the sales tax expansion.
Consumers would pay an estimated $77 million in new sales taxes on clothing purchases, $108 million on haircuts and other personal care services and $199 million on auto repair services. The overall budget plan calls for spending $37.9 billion over the next 2 years and longer range spending of $41.9 billion for the following two years.
This four-year spending total would represent an increase of $6.7 billion or nearly 20 percent from current state spending.
Tax 'Conformity' underway
The Tax Committee will take up a proposal to address federal and state tax "conformity" issues. Aligning the state's tax laws to the federal tax code is an important issue as Minnesota families across the state begin filing their income tax returns.
Provisions for tax year 2012 that remain unresolved include extending the educator classroom expense deduction, extending the higher education tuition deduction and extending tax-free IRA donations to certain public charities for taxpayers age 70-1/2 and older.
Timely resolution of tax conformity will help prevent the need for Minnesota taxpayers to file amended returns.
Health Insurance Exchange Bill
The Minnesota Insurance Marketplace Act was passed by the Tax Committee last week on a party line vote.
A substantial amendment was adopted that changed the funding mechanism for the exchange from a 3.5 percent withhold on insurance premiums to a transfer of funds from the Health Impact fund to cover the cost of exchange operations.
UNCF Leaders Luncheon
I was honored and excited to participate in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) panel discussion this past Friday, Feb. 15.
I was joined by Senator Terri Bonoff, Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller, and U of M Provost Dr. Karen Hanson to discuss key issues about the state of minority education, college affordability and how we can invest in better futures for our next generation.
UNCF plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college and get the education they need.