Property tax relief a top priority for Senate
Minnesotans have seen their property taxes increase nearly 60 percent since 2002. The Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates that property tax levies will increase an average of 8.2 percent ($516 million) statewide if all proposed local levies...
Minnesotans have seen their property taxes increase nearly 60 percent since 2002. The Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates that property tax levies will increase an average of 8.2 percent ($516 million) statewide if all proposed local levies are adopted. This follows a 9.2 percent levy increase last year and an average increase of 7 percent in the previous three years. On the campaign trail, I repeatedly heard from voters that their property taxes are out of control.
Recognizing the negative impact these huge increases have had on nearly every Minnesotan, the Senate DFL has made legislation providing property tax relief the very first bill to be introduced in the 2007 session.
The Property Tax Relief Act (S.F. 1) addresses the two major factors that have led to property tax increases in Minnesota: cuts to local government aid and school districts. The cuts in local government aid have forced cities and counties to raise their levies just so they can provide core services, such as fire, police, and libraries. The bill increases state aid to local governments to reverse these dramatic cuts that have been imposed over the past few years. By increasing their state aid, local governments will be able to keep property taxes in check while continuing to provide essential services.
The legislation recognizes that property tax increases are due to inadequate school funding from the state. Because of this, school districts have been forced to rely on levies to keep operating. To curb further dependence on these levies, S.F. 1 increases state aid to schools and places limits on new school levies.
In additional efforts to reduce property taxes, the bill further expands residential and agricultural land market value credits and increases homeowners' property tax refunds.
The specific dollar amount of relief that this bill will provide will be determined after the February Forecast is released. The February Forecast is one of two reports on the state's economy that is provided to members of the Legislature each year and contains solid numbers to use when shaping the budget.
This property tax proposal comes as the first of six major legislative initiatives in the Senate DFL plan for 2007. These bills reflect the message legislators heard from people all over the state -- we need to invest in the key quality-of-life areas that make Minnesota a great place to live. In addition to property tax relief, the other legislative priorities are:
- Establishing universal health care coverage.
- Recognizing transportation as the backbone of commerce.
- Securing greater energy independence.
- Expanding early childhood education.
- Dedicating funding for the outdoors, the arts and humanities.
Throughout the legislative session, I will be working hard with my fellow legislators and governor to advance these goals that the people of Minnesota have recognized as vital to our state's future success. I welcome and encourage your input on these, or any other, issues.
Minnesota State Senator Tony Lourey may be contacted at email@example.com or call (651) 296-0293 or write to 205 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155.