Friends and Neighbors,
Summer is ending and it is hard to believe that it is time for kids to be back in school! I hope you enjoyed the summer and maybe some time at the State Fair as well!
I have spent lots of time in our district talking to all of you and gathering priorities for next session. Even though the Capitol during interim is much quieter, we are staying busy. Read below for a brief update!
Department of Human Services
Over the last couple months, resignations and personnel issues within the Department of Human Services (DHS) have more clearly revealed systemic dysfunction. After two deputy commissioners resigned, followed by Commissioner Lourey and his chief of staff, the need for an independent review of the department has been reaffirmed. Senator Benson and the Republican caucus are insisting that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) become independent from DHS to complete a full and unbiased report of the agency.
A couple weeks ago, the Health and Human Services committee called for a hearing with representatives from DHS to attend and answer questions relating to internal departmental issues. A lot was left unanswered. Another hearing is coming up next week and the committee will continue to push for answers.
One of our top priorities here at the Senate is to reduce the waste that has grown within our state departments. We will continue to ask hard questions and develop reform to hold government agencies accountable to you.
Last session we tackled taxes and passed the first income tax rate cut in nearly 20 years, moving the second-tier income tax rate from 7.05% to 6.8% beginning in 2019. For the second budget year, we lowered the statewide business property tax, helping main street businesses across the state.
I passed a bill this year to reduce the tax on social security income for qualifying taxpayers. Currently, social security income is taxed twice – once before you receive it, and again when you pay income taxes. My bill increased the maximum Social Security subtraction to $5,150 (for married-filing joint filers). This is the second year we have taken a bit out of the tax. In 2017, we set the deduction at $4,500. We are taking significant steps, and I will continue to work on reducing the tax until it is eliminated. We are focused on protecting seniors on fixed incomes so they can stay in Minnesota with their friends and families.
Farmer Tax Credit
If you are a beginning farmer, you may qualify for a tax credit. Apply by October 1st to see if you are eligible! You can receive credit for the rent or sale of farm land or a variety of farm assets. This tax credit should provide a little extra cushion for those starting out. Please share this information with friends and family around our community so our farmers can find a little extra support. You can visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s website for the application and more information.
Please feel free to contact me any time. I really appreciate hearing from you. Give me a call at 651-296-5612 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.