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Daudt says Minnesota GOP will push for $2 billion in tax relief, $7 billion for roads, bridges

MOORHEAD - Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin were among a group of Republicans who stopped here Wednesday to present their party's priorities heading into next week's start of the legislative session.

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Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt works the floor of the House, conferring with Rep. Jenifer (cq) Loon on Monday, April 27, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)
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MOORHEAD – Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Majority Leader Joyce Peppin were among a group of Republicans who stopped here Wednesday to present their party's priorities heading into next week's start of the legislative session.

Daudt said GOP lawmakers will push for $2 billion in tax relief, targeted toward middle-class families and other groups, and $7 billion in investments over the next decade to improve roads and bridges-without an increase in the gasoline tax.

Daudt said that with the state budget surplus expected to be $900 million, there's "enough money to do both of those things."

Some tax breaks proposed by the GOP include:

• $538.6 million for a new state version of the personal or dependent exemption on tax returns equal to 25 percent of the federal exemption.

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• $130.6 million to give college, technical and trade school students a new credit for principal and interest loan payments on student loans.

• $236.7 million to phase out the tax on Social Security.

• $51.6 million to help veterans by no longer taxing military pay and pensions.

• $60.5 million for farmers and other Minnesotans by conforming the state's estate tax to the federal estate tax exclusion amount.

• $453.3 million to modify and phase out the statewide general property tax.

Gov. Mark Dayton's $1.4 billion bonding proposal was released last month. It includes $85 million for oil rail safety improvements, including rail separations in Moorhead, Prairie Island and Coon Rapids.

Daudt said lawmakers will probably look for a bonding bill of about $1 billion.

Moorhead officials hope to get $42 million in the bonding bill to build an underpass where Main Avenue meets 20th and 21st streets and rail lines near Moorhead High School.

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In addition, Cass County authorities hope the state will put $15 million into a new jail that will include facilities for mental health treatment.

Daudt said he expects rail crossing improvements to be part of the bonding bill, but he didn't speak specifically to the request for aid with the jail. He said his caucus would support projects that have a regional or statewide impact.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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