Republicans in the Minnesota Senate say transportation funding and tax relief should be the top priorities of the 2016 session.
Both issues were left unresolved last session when DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and top lawmakers couldn’t reach a deal. The underlying disagreements are still in place.
Senate Minority Leader David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, said during a news conference Thursday to outline his caucus’ session priorities that the Legislature must complete its work this year on transportation and taxes.
“If we let another session go by, especially when we have a surplus, without addressing these two critical functions then I think we’ve failed in our duty to the people of the state,” Hann said.
Senate Republicans oppose the gas tax increase that Democrats favor for transportation funding. They want to use surplus money and existing sales tax revenue.
Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said he considers the gas tax a non-starter.
“It is in my estimation an outmoded and outdated method of funding transportation,” Newman said. “It is simply not going to be a viable option.”
On taxes, the Senate GOP is wants breaks for farmers, senior citizens and military veterans. Their plan would reduce the property taxes on agriculture land related to school bond issues. It would eliminate state taxes on social security income and military pensions.
“Why should we penalize veterans and senior in Minnesota with harsh tax consequences?,” asked Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa.
The Senate Republican plan would also allow Minnesotans to purchase healthcare plans from other states and reinstate graduation requirements for students.