Two Relatively Quiet Days. There haven't been a lot of hearings the past couple of days, but the key hearings that have been held have been extremely interesting. On Tuesday afternoon, the House Property Tax Subcommittee, chaired by Representative Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis), discussed the Governor's property tax refund proposal and it was a spirited meeting. Minnesota Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans and the Department's Director of Property Tax Research Eric Willette described the proposal in detail, including the proposed Local Government Aid changes and the $500 per homeowner property tax refund. As I've written before, the $500 per homeowner property tax refund doesn't really accomplish anything when it comes to moving property tax reform forward and that theme was picked up by a number of the Republican legislators serving on the committee. The repartee was polite, but there were still a number of pointed questions that sought to get at the heart of the reasoning behind the proposal. I don't think there's an ulterior motive behind the proposal and I am sure there is going to a lot of discussion going forward. We'll just have to see how it turns out.
Dr. Tom Melcher from the Minnesota Department of Education and Mary Cecconi of Parent United for Public Schools presented the recommendations of the Governor's Education Finance Working Group and the provisions from those recommendations that made it into the Governor's budget proposal. As in the case of the Governor's property tax proposal, the fact that the equalization increases contained in the Working Group recommendations didn't survive beyond that discussion is very disappointing the me (and I'm sure to all SEE members), but this won't be the end of the story. Senator Rod Skoe's (DFL-Clearbrook) increased equalization bill is expected to be introduced tomorrow and as Chair of the Senate Tax Committee, there is little doubt the proposal will receive a fair amount of attention. I will provide a link to the bill when it is introduced.