Friday, October 17, 2008

Negative Mailing Fact Check #2

The Freedom Club PAC just sent out a second mailing this week suggesting that I would like to tax people out of their homes through property tax increases. The postcard cites four votes that support this contention.

Well, this is more bunk. The votes include two amendments offered by the Republican minority to a tax conformity bill (HF3201) final passage to HF3201 on March 3, 2008, and one amendment on the omnibus transportation bill (HF2800) on February 21, 2008.

So here's the deal on the votes cited in the mailing.

House Journal page 8099: Rep. Drazkowski introduced an amendment to HF3201 that would establish a property tax levy cap for seniors. House Journal page 8060 was an amendment from Rep. Buesgens that would impose levy limits on local governments. While these sound good, these amendment came on the fly on the floor and we were unable to receive any input from the public about its fiscal repercussions. We eventually put together other legislation that provides targeted relief to senior for property taxes. Indeed, I authored a bill in cooperation with the MN Senior Federation (HF4171) that would cap property taxes as a percentage of your income and a bill (HF4188) that would increase the amount of dollars for the Property Tax Refund (PTR) program--or the "circuit breaker" program. HF4188 ended up being part of the omnibus tax bill at the end of the session and included about $20 million. We also had levy limits in our final tax bill as well, and I voted for that bill. The overall tax conformity bill (House Journal page 8103) makes sure that we are coordinating our tax policy with federal tax law among other things, and it was a good bill. The tax conformity bill provided property tax exclusions for disabled veterans and it also included National Guard members in the group of people who can claim income tax deductions for out-of-state military service.

House Journal page 7863 was an amendment by Rep. Kohls on the omnibus transportation finance bill on February 21st. This is the big transportation bill that infuses necessary dollars into our roads, bridges, and transit system. The amendment would require that any new state dollars doing to local governments result in a dollar-for-dollar reduction in property taxes. The problem with this amendment (other than it was poorly written) is that our eventual legislation for transportation is helping property taxes GO DOWN in several places in our district. The city tax levy in 2009 in Circle Pines will GO DOWN by six percent due in part to the new transportation dollars going to cities, counties, and townships.

The mailing has a picture of someone hammering in a "foreclosed" sign in front a house. This is ironic, since I introduced legislation that the Governor signed to provide foreclosure protection and predatory lending protections for owners of manufactured homes (aka mobile homes).