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Letter: Legislature missed chance to help farmers

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opinion Bemidji,Minnesota 56619 http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/sites/all/themes/bemidjipioneer_theme/images/social_default_image.png
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Letter: Legislature missed chance to help farmers
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

As you may know, the Legislature held a special session on Monday to allocate disaster aid to 18 different Minnesota counties across western and southern Minnesota. Along with federal funding, the state will help provide 25 percent of the funding needed to make repairs after storms in late June that caused nearly $18 million in damage. I'm happy to see both parties get on board to help those counties who need assistance.

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But this one-day session also was one of missed opportunities. When Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk had originally proposed the agenda for the Special Session, they also wanted to address the farm equipment repair tax. This tax, which went into effect earlier this summer, puts a cost on our ag producers across the state.

At a time when some areas are dealing with drought or still recovering from last year's drought, this repeal of the farm equipment repair tax would have been step in the right direction toward helping our farmers. Based on data from the Department of Revenue, repealing the tax will cost around $28 million over two years. The full cost could be paid for by extra reserves the legislature built in to the structurally balanced budget that was passed in May.

Unfortunately, Republicans would not agree to repeal the tax unless the special session addressed a series of other issues as well. These issues would have cost far more than $28 million, and certainly would not have been covered simply by using extra reserves built into the budget. Instead of taking care of a simple problem with a simple solution, we will have to wait until next session to address farm equipment repair tax.

I'm disappointed that we weren't able to repeal this tax for our farmers and ag producers because of silly partisan politics. But I promise to continue to fight for its repeal in the future.

Rep. Roger Erickson

DFL-Baudette

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