Ad Spot

Deal brewing on quick tax relief bill in Minnesota

By Brian Bakst, Minnesota Public Radio News

A Senate bill to protect Minnesota business loan recipients from a tax hit underwent a change Tuesday to also assist people who got unemployment aid during the pandemic.

The revision made on a unanimous vote by the Senate Taxes Committee signals a deal could be developing to speed the pricey plan through.

There’s also talk of adding money — perhaps from a pot of federal aid — to help school districts expand summer school for students who have fallen behind in a year marked by lost classroom time. That measure is a priority of Gov. Tim Walz and majority House DFLers.

The Senate bill’s main feature would make federal Payroll Protection Program loans state tax-free for up to 100,000 companies. Businesses whose loans were converted into grants had to prove they spent a majority of the money on keeping people on the payroll during the depths of COVID-19 restrictions.

The newly added provision would also head off some tax payments owed by people who claimed an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits.

Not all of the taxes owed on pandemic-related unemployment aid would be eliminated. The current language would allow joint filers to subtract up to $3,000 of that income from their taxable income and $1,500 for individuals. Some people received more than $10,000 or more in enhanced unemployment benefits under special federal rules.

Even the limited provision would carry a price tag of $30 million to $50 million, according to Senate nonpartisan staff research.

The business break adds up to almost $440 million.

Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, spearheaded the change and promoted the school measure that hasn’t been tacked on yet.

“Kids, workers and businesses. That’s what this bill can become,” Rest said. “What could be more bipartisan than that?”

There is urgency because the tax filing season has begun, and schools need time to prepare for enhanced summer programs.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, expressed openness Monday to providing the summer school money. But he didn’t commit to it.

Senate Taxes Committee Chair Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, said the tax bill will undergo more revisions as it moves ahead. Its next stop is the floor, where a vote could be held as soon as Thursday but more likely next week.

“We do have, I believe, 67 senators who are laser-focused on trying to help their constituents recover, and that is my hope going forward,” Nelson said.

House lawmakers have both tax measures under consideration. It’s not clear where they might draw the line on relief for businesses and workers.

Minnesota has a projected $1.6 billion surplus, with much of that building up during the current fiscal year. Every dollar spent now would have significant implications for the next two-year budget, which lawmakers must set this year.

Cops, Courts & Fires

Freeborn County experiencing 911 technical issues

Cops, Courts & Fires

Man flown to Rochester with injuries; 1 arrested for assault

Business

Pandemic shows value of remote work for disabled employees

News

Buyer emerges for Minnesota’s never-used backup morgue

Alden-Conger Knights

Gallery: Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons hosts United South Central in Saturday afternoon game

Cops, Courts & Fires

Man arrested after chase and other reports

Cops, Courts & Fires

2 injured in separate crashes in Freeborn County

News

Walz proposes drought relief for farmers

News

New group for those with memory concerns and their care partners to kick off Monday

News

Restoring the landmark Itasca Rock Garden

Construction Updates

Construction update: The latest on area road projects

Albert Lea Tigers

Offense struggles as KoMets beat Tigers on Homecoming

News

4th year of dredging complete; district looks to secure funds for rest

Cops, Courts & Fires

Court Dispositions: Sept. 1-6, 2021

Arts & Culture

Big Island Rendezvous print now available

Education

Hawthorne Star Class: Meeting students where they’re at

Faith

Woman attends National Council of Catholic Women convention

News

Eagles Auxiliary scholarship given

Education

Administrator’s Corner: Online academy offers opportunities

Education

High school Standout Students

Education

Albert Lea Homecoming king and queen crowned

News

Visiting the sunflower fields

News

St. John’s wins Homecoming window decorating contest

Health Updates

2 additional COVID-19 deaths reported in Freeborn County