Swedzinski: Robust tax relief should be in store
Minnesota’s budget surplus continues to snowball and State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, said the conditions remain ripe for permanent tax relief at a time people are facing higher costs of living.
Minnesota Management & Budget issued its February economic forecast Monday ad it projects a $9.3 billion biennial surplus. That figure is up $1.5 billion from the already historic $7.7 billion surplus projected in November. State officials indicate “A higher income, consumer spending, and corporate profit forecast results in an improved revenue projection while spending is slightly lower in E-12 education and Health and Human Services.”
Swedzinski said the state already is fully funded for the biennium, meaning robust tax relief should be in store with the state’s whopping excess revenue.
“It is mind-boggling for our government to have an $10 billion in excess revenue at a time families and businesses throughout Minnesota are struggling with higher prices on gas, food and everything in between these days,” Swedzinski said. “This surplus needs to be converted to meaningful, permanent tax relief and ending our state’s tax on Social Security is just the start of it.
“This massive surplus also underscores the injustice it would be to allow Minnesota businesses to suffer large tax increases by failing to fully replenish the state’s unemployment insurance fund by mid-March. The state has far more money than it needs and the Senate already passed a bipartisan bill that puts this issue to rest. House Democrats need to stop playing partisan games so we can get this done.”
In its report, MMB also indicates the structural balance in the FY 2024-25 planning estimates remains positive and largely unchanged from November. It also says uncertainty due to inflation and geopolitical conflict pose risk to the budget and economic outlook.
RFA loan bill advances to House
Legislation Swedzinski authored to help speed up turnaround time on Rural Finance Authority loan program applications recently passed its first committee test in the House.
Swedzinski’s bill (H.F. 3081) appropriates $80,000 to the Department of Agriculture to expedite the processing of RFA applications. Swedzinski said this would be especially helpful to prospective farmers seeking to leverage the RFA’s beginning farmer tax credit program.
“This is a pretty straightforward bill to help us meet a growing need as agriculture transitions,” Swedzinski said. “The RFA does a great job, but it gets inundated with applications and has struggled to keep up with demand. The goal of this bill is to make sure the RFA has the tools and the staff it needs to make sure young farmers have an opportunity to grow and be successful in their operations. ”
Groups from the agricultural industry expressed support for Swedzinski’s bill. Brent Kelsey of agricultural lender Compeer Financial testified to the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee in favor of the proposal. Kelsey said he has been a government loan specialist with Compeer the last 11 years and has personally encountered growing RFA processing delays in recent months, with turnaround time stretching from mere days to up to 10 weeks. Kelsey said this can cause program participants to lose interest, cancel their application or even decide not to pursue RFA financing at all.
“The RFA is an extremely valuable resource to farmers in Minnesota, especially young farmers,” Swedzinski said. “My bill just helps make sure the RFA can effectively and efficiently deliver the great services it provides so more farmers can benefit.”
The committee set aside Swedzinski’s bill for potential inclusion in an omnibus agriculture package later this session.