Gov. Dayton Demands Action on Tax Bills - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Gov. Dayton Demands Action on Tax Bills

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(KARE) Gov. Mark Dayton returned the State Capitol Tuesday after a seven-week absence to demand lawmakers take action on a package of tax breaks and repeals.

Dayton, who has been working from the Governor's Residence while recovering from hip surgery, said he felt compelled to return to the Capitol to prod legislators to move quickly on the tax bills, including one that will bring Minnesota's state tax deductions in line with federal deductions.

"I hope Minnesotans will communicate with their legislators and these DFL legislators I'm sorry to say, that this is inexcusable and it's unacceptable," Dayton said, referring to the pace at which the bills are moving in the legislature.

Dayton originally set a deadline of March 14 and then moved it to March 19. He said, after meeting with leaders, that reaching a deal has been held up by friction over a new legislative office building planned for the Capitol complex in St. Paul.

The House of Representatives quickly passed a $500 million package of tax deductions and tax relief measures, including repeal of some business-to-business sales taxes enacted in 2013. But the Senate, rather than adopting the House version, chose to hold a series of committee hearings on their own set of bills.

Dayton pointed out that more than one million Minnesotans will file their taxes after April 1 and that tax filing software can still be updated to reflect the changes passed this session, if the legislation gets to his desk soon enough.

And, in some cases the Dept. of Revenue can adjust a taxpayer's return after receiving it, eliminating the need for people to file amended returns or seek extensions.

"It's going to create a lot of confusion, a lot of difficulty for the Department of Revenue to handle this smoothly, and it's just inexcusable and I'm very, very disappointed," Dayton told reporters.

Dayton went on to say that the proposed legislative office building, as designed, does not appear to be architecturally compatible with the existing government buildings near the Capitol. He said he agrees more office space for lawmakers is needed, but pressed the House and Senate to get past their differences on how the new space will be used.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said afterwards that the Senate wants to be careful with any changes in tax code that will affect the state's budget in the long term. But he said the Senate still plans to pass a tax bill by Thursday. If it differs from the House version, this may lead to a conference committee to resolve the differences.

Senators are not up for reelection in 2014. Members of the House and Dayton are both facing elections in November.

The rush to cut taxes was made much easier by a revenue forecast in February that projected a $1.2 billion surplus in the current two-year budget cycle, known as a biennium. The outlook for the next cycle, Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, is even better at $2.4 billion.

The more controversial business-to-business sales taxes, such as the sales tax on business equipment repairs and the sales tax on warehousing products in buildings owned by other companies, were proposed by Senate budget negotiators in 2013, passed by both chambers of the legislature, and signed into law by Dayton.


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