So about that tax cut deal that helped end the special session…

Republican minority leader David Hann
MinnPost file photo by James Nord
Republican minority leader David Hann

There is some meat attached to the bones of the tax cut deal that led to the passage of the omnibus environmental and agriculture bill in the final hours last week’s special session of the Minnesota Legislature.

Republican minority leader David Hann, who struck the deal with DFL majority leader Tom Bakk, revealed some of the details at a Republican senate district meeting in Edina earlier this week.

Hann said Bakk promised that a tax bill with “substantial” tax reductions will emerge from the Senate in 2016 in exchange for Republican votes on the controversial agriculture and environment bill. 

Bakk was falling short of the necessary votes to pass the bill because of strong opposition from members of his caucus who objected to changes in environmental protection policies. So Bakk asked for Hann’s help in securing some Republican votes.

“I said, ‘Let’s talk about next year,’” Hann said. “We are going to have left over a significant amount of money…. that didn’t get spent, didn’t get committed. To me that’s money that has the opportunity of being spent as a way of providing some kind of tax relief, tax reductions.”

Hann said the conversation involved Bakk, the DFL chair of the tax committee, and a Republican member of the committee. Hann said he suggested using the 2015 tax bill (which did not get passed) as a starting point.    

“Can we take the bill that you’re working on right now that’s in the conference committee, that has a very small amount — about 90 million — in tax reduction; can we take that as a baseline and build up from that and add a significant amount of tax reduction to that bill?” Hann said, recalling the discussion with Bakk. “Can we agree that we in the Senate will pass a good tax bill that Republicans can have input in, and [Bakk] said ‘yes.’ So that was the agreement.” 

That agreement yielded enough Republican votes to allow passage of the environment bill, ending the special session.  

In an interview, Hann said the agreement to produce a tax bill next year is still not specific but “we did talk about some dollar amounts. There’s always uncertainty about how much money is going to be available.”

The state started the 2015 legislative session with a $1 billion surplus, which later grew to $1.9 billion. Yet more than $800 million was left unspent. Hann said that additional revenue could boost that amount.

“What I will say is that it is a significant amount of tax reduction and it is ideas or things that Republicans think are worth doing,” he said.  “This is not just stuff that Democrats would necessarily be opposed to but we think it would be things that are beneficial to the state and have support among some Democrats.” 

Hann said he couldn’t offer details on what taxes would be affected but he emphasized that the changes would have an impact. Next year’s Senate bill will contain not just tax credits, he said, but actual tax reductions.  

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/18/2015 - 11:07 am.

    Bakk promised?

    I’m I the only one here who realizes that Bakk cannot guarantee or compel senate democrats will vote for substantial tax cuts? Bakk may not even still be in a leadership position by that point and this “promise” of his isn’t going to fly or win him any confidence. And why is Bakk adopting republican budget plans that always bring fiscal ruin to any government that adopts them in the first place? Since when did Bakk decide that turning surplus into deficit and fiscal stability into fiscal crises is a good idea? Such promises from Bakk are just one more reason to throw him out of leadership.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 06/18/2015 - 03:16 pm.

      Here’s a clue to Bakk’s thinking

      “Bakk was falling short of the necessary votes to pass the bill because of strong opposition from members of his caucus who objected to changes in environmental protection policies. So Bakk asked for Hann’s help in securing some Republican votes.”

      Rather that change the bill to adhere more closely with Democratic principles, he went a made a deal with the devil.

  2. Submitted by Mike Worcester on 06/18/2015 - 11:40 am.

    Veto-Proof Majority?

    There is also the issue of getting enough votes to over-ride a likely veto by Governor Dayton. I cannot imagine him signing a bill that would include reductions for higher income earners. (Though obviously the details would determine what action would eventually be taken.)

  3. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/18/2015 - 11:45 am.

    The Republicans should have asked Gov. Dayton how Bakk…

    …performs on his assurances.

    It wasn’t that long ago that –

    ‘Dayton said Bakk “stabbed him in the back” and that he can no longer trust him.;

  4. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 06/18/2015 - 12:37 pm.

    An Empty Promise

    Call me crazy but it is hard to imagine Senate DFL’ers rallying around Sen. Bakk to deliver on his tax cut “promise” to Republicans so that the Senate could pass a special session bill most DFL senators opposed! Furthermore, it doesn’t sound like he consulted with the DFL Senate caucus prior to his “promise” to Sen. Hann so I suspect many DFL senators will feel no obligation to uphold Sen. Bakk’s “promise”.

  5. Submitted by Chad Quigley on 06/19/2015 - 08:28 am.

    Tax cuts? Ha!

    The Republicans got sucker again by listening to the weasel DFL leadership in promising tax cuts later for a vote on a bad bill today. They should watch a few episodes of Popeye to learn they’re never getting paid back. Sheez.
    This State continually believes that there is an endless supply of money and that those who can afford to pay should foot the bill for every liberals social engineering programs. Tax cuts do not bring about financial ruin, liberal policies spending more than you have and throwing money at every problem and never asking for results is what brings about financial ruin.

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