There were a few hiccups along the way but the Minnesota Senate voted for a tax bill that raises income taxes on top earners, increases tobacco taxes and expands the sales tax to clothing and other services.
The bill’s final passage came after the Senate initially defeated the measure. Senate Democrats quickly met in private and then voted to reconsider the initial vote.
Two Democrats switched their votes. Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL- Apple Valley, says he switched his vote from no to yes because he was worried the Senate would not be able to commit to spending priorities if the tax bill failed.
“For me, what it came down to quite honestly is that we made a lot of gains in education,” Clausen said. “I ran on an education platform and I wasn’t willing to put those education investments at risk by not having this tax bill.”
DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says several DFL members were confused when a few Republicans signaled they would support the bill but eventually switched to a no vote.
“There were people that voted no because they thought there were plenty of votes up to pass it,” Bakk said. “I think people didn’t realize that people were going to play a little trick when the roll was closed and switch their vote back. I think there would have easily been the same number of votes had the Republicans had been honest and put up their red vote when the roll was called.”
Bakk said he didn’t twist arms to convince Clausen or Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, to switch their votes. Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, also voted for the bill after not voting the first time.
Senate Republicans weren’t buying Bakk’s explanation. They said the first vote was a sign the bill didn’t have strong support.
“The first vote was a vote where the DFL members voted their conscience, they voted their district, they voted the merits of the bill and it failed,” said GOP Senate Majority Leader David Hann. “It shows that this bill does not have the support of the DFL caucus.”
The tax bill now has to be reconciled with a different House bill and Gov. Dayton’s tax proposal.