Rebate debate heats up

A week after DFL Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled his budget proposal, Republicans legislators were turning up the heat on his plan to provide $500 property tax rebates to all homeowners.

One lawmaker suggested during a Senate tax committee hearing today that the proposal might be more about Dayton’s 2014 re-election campaign than it is about making good tax policy. Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, told Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans that she didn’t understand why the governor would raise other taxes in order to buy down property taxes.

“I can’t imagine why we would take sales tax dollars out of the pockets of middle income and poor Minnesotans just to write a check to property owners in the state of Minnesota,” Ortman said. “I don’t know why we would do that unless it looked like –forgive me for being cynical — a re-election plan.”

Commissioner Frans defended the proposal, saying it was a response to Minnesotans’ complaints that property taxes are too high.

Later in the day, Gov. Dayton was also defending his plan. He also accused Republicans of not understanding the issue.

“If someone has got a better idea or another step forward, let’s do that,” Dayton said. “But if people just want to sit back and carp, and deny people a $500 property tax rebate, they’re sure not in touch with the people I hear from every day and talk to every day.”

DFL leaders in the House and Senate also want to provide property tax relief this session, but at least for now they have not embraced the governor’s proposal.