Thursday, February 29, 2024

Infrastructure, tax relief bills on legislative agenda

It was another busy week at the Capitol, and I heard on the radio this week that Minnesota has had 100 consecutive days of snow on the ground and counting. As much as I’ve enjoyed building snowmen, making snow angels and drinking hot chocolate, I am ready for spring. Bring on the green grass, sunshine, and warm temps!

This past week included International Women’s Day and I am thankful for the many sharp, tough, inspirational women in my life.

I think of my dear mother who taught me as a child to work hard and live by the Golden Rule. Always wise, she grows even wiser each day, her energy is boundless and she continues to inspire me.

I’m also thinking of my mentor Nancy Brataas, the first female Minnesota State Senator in her own right. On the first day of session a fellow Senator claimed she was unable to speak in the Senate because she was not wearing a tie. It is a privilege and great responsibility to follow in her footsteps.

I am thankful for all the groundbreaking women who came before us, blazed trails and showed us how to lead with passion, compassion and integrity.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me for help with any state issue or legislative initiative: or at 651-296-4848.

It is a privilege to serve you!

Infrastructure Projects

As you know, I have long been a strong advocate for smart thoughtful use of bonding for critical infrastructure projects. I’ve long been a champion for bonding projects that help residents of Rochester and southeast Minnesota, like the Rochester Airport, Hwy 14 expansion, Willow Creek Trail, The Reading Center and Workforce Development Center. My commitment will continue.

The new Senate District 24 brings additional needs for bonding projects to my attention. I am championing: Kasson Flood Mitigation, Dodge County Transfer Station and Wasioja Seminary Ruins.

With the $19 billion plus surplus we should be able to fund these needed infrastructure projects, provide tax relief, and fund the state government. (Although the competition will be stiff as bonding requests often out strip allocated dollars by a 4:1 margin.)

Regardless, our first priority should be to provide tax relief to Minnesotans. Bonds are not let until August, so there is plenty of time to get this tax relief out the door right away and then follow up with a bonding bill. It is essential that we work together in a bipartisan manner to provide tax relief, take care of our state’s key infrastructure projects and develop our next two year state budget.

Social Security Tax

Last week, I made a motion to bring a timely bill I authored, Senate File 29, to a vote on the Senate floor. It would completely eliminate the state tax on all Social Security benefits, including disability benefits. The motion ultimately failed on a party-line vote after one Democrat changed her vote from yes to no. In the end 34 Democrats opposed and all 33 Republicans supported the urgency of this tax relief.

The urgency to eliminate this harmful tax is growing with each passing day. Seniors are struggling to afford daily expenses due to high inflation. With a $19 billion budget surplus, NOW is the time to get this done! I will continue working until we get this much-needed relief done once and for all. Minnesota is a high tax island, being one of only 11 states that tax social security benefits.

Eliminating the tax on Social Security benefits enjoys bipartisan support. As Senate Taxes Committee Chair last year, I reached a bipartisan agreement with my Democrat counterpart in the House, Rep. Paul Marquart, on a comprehensive tax relief bill that included a full elimination of the state’s tax on Social Security benefits. Unfortunately for all, House Democrat leadership did not bring that agreement up for a vote.

Let’s row the boat and get this needed tax relief to Minnesota Seniors!

Charitable Gambling Tax Relief

This session, I have once again authored legislation to provide much needed tax relief to our organizations who utilize charitable gambling to support our communities. You know these philanthropists, Organizations like Veterans groups, fraternal organizations, fire departments, church, youth and civic groups, youth hockey, youth baseball or non-profit foundations. The locally determined missions they choose to fund through charitable gambling are of great value.

The ability to fulfill their philanthropic mission supporting our local communities has eroded due to our high taxes. Charitable gaming is the ONLY industry that routinely pays income taxes on its charitable contributions. In 2017 charities reached the point where they pay more in taxes and fees than they have available for donations to their community! With only three cents of every dollar wagered going towards charitable purposes- charitable gambling is the most heavily taxed industry in our state.

The need for tax relief continues to grow. Without needed tax relief the charitable organizations will continue to see state taxes consume more and more of the charitable gaming dollars thereby limiting their ability to contribute to their mission and community.

That’s why I am glad to champion SF-1435, to lower net receipts tax for charitable gambling — helping to keep more money in our communities and more funds available for the local programs that utilize these dollars.

Carla Nelson represents State Senate District 24 in the Minnesota Legislature.




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