Governor Mark Dayton said state property taxes will fall $121 million in 2014 -- their first decline in a decade -- at a Minnesota Department of Revenue meeting on Tuesday.
The meeting was scheduled to release new information from the Department of Revenue concerning middle class tax relief delivered under Gov. Dayton's Budget for a Better Minnesota.
Republicans greeted the assertions made at the meeting with skepticism. Minnesota Senate Minority Leader David Hann went so far as to say Dayton's property tax reduction projections are as reliable as those of the pull-tabs which were intended to pay for the state's portion of the new Vikings stadium.
During the meeting, Gov. Dayton joked that the people who crunched the property tax reduction numbers are not the same people who projected the revenue from the eagerly anticipated electronic pull-tabs designed to fund much of the state's share of the new Vikings stadium. Thus far, there's been a giant discrepancy between pull-tab projections and actual revenue -- the daily sales per machine in March was just $87. The state made its revenue estimates based on sales of $225 per day per machine.
Even with assurances of better calculations, Republicans still expressed doubts that middle-class Minnesotans would see their taxes decrease. Minnesota House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Doudt (R-Crown) argued everyone's taxes would increase as a result of Dayton's budget because of the increases in local government aid funding. He contends those never directly result in property tax reductions.
If the numbers do hold true, it would represent an impressive turnaround on state-wide property taxes; however, local governments have not yet set their budgets, so it's unclear whether the projections will materialize.
"Clearly, it is a projection. It is based upon prior experience," Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said. "We will see how [counties and cities] do it. It's up to the local officials."
The hard numbers of what will actually take place with property taxes won't be known until February.
Dayton was also joined by state Rep. Jim Davnie and state Sen. Kari Dziedzic in making his announcement.
MEETING WITH BACHMANN
Prior to the revenue meeting, Gov. Dayton met with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and members of the Interstate 94 Coalition.
Outside of Gov. Dayton's office, Bachmann said the Coalition had constructive talks with him to add a lane of traffic to St. Cloud in each direction of I-94. Coalition members are trying to gather an initial $25 million for the project; however, it's not included in the Minnesota Department of Transportation list of priorities for the next 20 years. Dayton said the project must be considered along with other transportation needs in the state.
Bachmann also said she has "complete confidence" she will be cleared in regard to her expanded House Ethics Committee inquiry into her presidential campaign. The Ethics Committee said last week that the review will extend into September. Bachmann has denied wrongdoing but said in May that she would not seek re-election.