The Minnesota Legislature returns to work next month for a one-day special session that will deal with disaster relief — and nothing else.
Despite repeated attempts, taxes are now off the agenda after Gov. Mark Dayton and the GOP were unable to agree on which of the state’s new business sales taxes should be repealed or how they would make up for the millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.
“I wish we had $314 million available to commit to eliminating these three taxes, but we don’t,” said Dayton, who had urged Republican legislators to come up with a way to offset the revenue the state would lose if it repealed all three of the new business-to-business sales taxes the Legislature passed in May. “So we either have to generate more revenue or we have to cut spending.”
The two sides met Wednesday and agreed to limit the special session agenda to appropriating state aid for storm-damaged counties in southeast Minnesota. The June storms caused millions of dollars in damage to public infrastructure and prompted a federal disaster declaration for the region. But before the aid money can start flowing, legislators have to sign off on a disaster relief appropriations bill.
Dayton had earlier offered to expand the special session agenda to include repeal of one tax provision — a tax on farm equipment repair he said was erroneously inserted into the $2.1 billion package of tax increases. The state, he said, could cover the $28 million in lost tax revenue out of the general fund.
But if lawmakers wanted to repeal additional taxes, Dayton said, they’d have to come up with a way to pay for it. Talks broke down as the GOP caucus pushed for broader tax repeals. Both sides eventually agreed to drop the tax issue for now and focus solely on disaster aid.