MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota House Democrats on Monday unveiled legislation that calls for more spending on education and recovery for those hardest hit by the pandemic while raising taxes for wealthy residents and large companies.
The package of bills follows the $ 52.5 billion budget targets released by House Democrats late last month, which is more than Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s proposal and the GOP’s Senate proposal .
The legislation would offer more than $ 1 billion in tax cuts to workers, families and small businesses while raising taxes for the wealthy and businesses that have used the pandemic to fund investments in education and businesses. COVID-19 recovery efforts.
The tax bill echoes Walz’s proposal by expanding the state’s working family tax credit and creating a fifth tax bracket with a rate of 11.15% for higher incomes to $ 1 million for a couple filing jointly. The bill also includes a tax exemption for businesses that received up to $ 350,000 in loans from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, which lawmakers said would include 90% of Minnesotans who received the loan, and tax relief on up to $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits received by workers.
“The fifth level is also trying to address the big disparities in income that this COVID-19 has brought,” said the chairman of the House Tax Committee, Rep. Paul Marquardt, of Dilworth. “This is a bill that creates more tax fairness but provides significant investments in COVID-19 recovery and investments in the future.”
The education budget bill – which includes $ 722 million in new spending for kindergarten to grade 12 – includes funding increases for preschool and school districts, as well as several measures to recruit teachers of color while improving school environments for teachers and students of color. .
The package also includes earned safety and sick leave, emergency paid leave for healthcare workers, and health and safety protections for meat and poultry processing workers. Other measures would provide grants to businesses that have lost revenue amid the pandemic, as well as other investments in businesses in underserved communities.
Senate Republicans oppose any further tax hikes, citing the state’s projected $ 1.6 billion surplus and about $ 4.8 billion in federal assistance to the state through the plan $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package from President Joe Biden. GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of East Gull Lake called the creation of a fifth tax bracket a ‘bad idea’ and reiterated his call for tax exemptions on all PPP loans .
“In Minnesota, you probably know we’re one of the highest taxed states in the whole country, and yet Democrats in the House are saying ‘we need more, we want more taxes,'” he said. he said in a video response on Facebook. “It’s the last thing we need right now.”
The budget bills mark the final stage in budget negotiations as Walz and leaders in the divided legislature work to develop a budget before the legislative session ends in mid-May. The bills are expected to go through committees this week before being introduced later this month. The next deadline for committee approval of finance bills is Friday.
Mohamed Ibrahim is a staff member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.