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Rep. Paul Marquart, House Minority Lead, Property Tax Division

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Property taxes are due on Oct. 15 – and if you’re like most people in greater Minnesota, it meant another property tax increase. This tax hike should weigh heavily on the minds of rural voters this year. That’s because a big reason for your tax hike is that Republican legislators, including Rep. Larry Howes, turned their backs on rural Minnesotans by voting to eliminate your homestead credit.

For decades the homestead credit has provided direct property tax relief to rural Minnesota homeowners, seniors and businesses. And until last year, Democrats and Republicans from rural Minnesota have banded together to protect this tax relief for greater Minnesota. This past session something changed. Republican legislators from greater Minnesota chose to follow their party leaders in voting to eliminate the homestead credit at the expense of their rural constituents.

The numbers tell the story. Of the property tax increases this year, 64 percent of them came from greater Minnesota. The increase for rural homeowners was eight times higher than metro homeowners. Rural businesses saw their taxes rise three times higher than in the metro area. And farmers across the state were hit with double-digit tax increases.

Across this area, property taxes have spiked. Bemidji, Cass Lake and Walker all saw property tax increases greater than 5 percent. Homeowners in Squaw Lake were hurt by property tax hikes of 37.2 percent and Bena small businesses were hit with an increase of 36.9 percent.

If you are curious what the elimination of the homestead credit meant to you, I encourage you to take out your 2011 property tax statement and compare it to your 2012 statement. You will notice that on line 4A from your 2011 property tax statement the word “Homestead” has vanished from your 2012 statement — along with your tax relief. This is unfair to you – and it is unfair to greater Minnesota.

The good news is we can do something about it. Rep. John Persell has consistently voted against cutting the homestead credit and he will work to restore it next session. We need to elect legislators who will put our greater Minnesota values ahead of party politics.

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