Dayton changes, signs tax-cut bill

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ST. PAUL — Legislation cutting several Minnesota taxes is law.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, that he would let the tax bill lawmakers passed in a special legislative session last week become law without his signature. However, by 11 p.m. he had changed his mind after it became unclear whether not signing the bill meant it would become law or it would be considered a veto.

"To remove any doubt, we were advised that the governor sign the tax bill before midnight this evening," Dayton's office reported late Tuesday. "The governor has now signed the tax bill into law, and has filed the signed bill with the secretary of state's office.

"The governor's signing of the tax bill does not affect the concerns he expressed in his letter to legislative leaders earlier today or at his news conference."

Dayton told leaders that the "bill has many positive features," including a child care tax credit, increase aid for local governments and lower property taxes on farmland.

However, the Democratic governor said, the Republican-written bill also contains items he opposes, including reversing tobacco tax increases. He also objected to a freeze on statewide business property tax levies, which he said would cost the state more than $1 billion over 10 years.

He complained that the bill takes too much money out of the state budget, with it expanding in future years.

The bill contains several features, including the farm property tax break, for greater Minnesota residents.

Rural Minnesota Republicans have complained that the Dayton administration is not treating them well.
"A sign that there may be a truce on the war on agriculture is a signature on the tax bill," Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said. "There is property tax relief for farmers in there. There also is very important buffer funding in there for counties. ... If that money is not in there, those efforts will not succeed and the war on agriculture will continue."
Gazelka said that Dayton and Republicans who control the Legislature compromised on buffers, the Dayton-pushed requirement that there be vegetation between most cropland and water across the state. The 2015 law is Dayton's signature clean-water initiative.
Part of the compromise is that farmers can apply for an eight-month delay to the deadline many faced this fall to install buffers.

The bill also include tax breaks for beginning farmers and increases how the size of estates before they are taxed.. Dayton said only a few farmer families would be helped by the estate tax change.