To the editor:
In a recent Independent article about a listening session sponsored by Rep. Chris Swedzinski and House Taxes Chair Greg Davids, ("Representatives talk taxes in Marshall," June 19) Rep. Swedzinski responded to concerns about rising property taxes by saying, "we're going to have to, as rural members, make a stand."
As former chairman of the House Property Tax Relief and Local Sales committee, I must respond to those comments. The fact is Rep. Swedzinski did take a stand last year, but it was the wrong one. Rep. Swedzinski voted for a budget after the shutdown that eliminated the Homestead Credit, which contributed to unfair property tax increases for homeowners, seniors and farmers throughout the state.
For more than four decades Minnesota homeowners received the homestead credit as a way to lower their property taxes. Homeowners could receive up to $304 from this credit. It's now permanently gone.
The elimination of the Homestead Credit really hit senior citizens, families, farmers and Main Street businesses in rural Minnesota unfairly hard. Of the $370 million in statewide property tax increases in 2012, rural Minnesota will pick up 64 percent of the tab.
Worst of all, we could have fixed this mess had the Legislature truly taken a stand for rural Minnesota. I introduced a bill to restore the Homestead Credit and lower property taxes in rural Minnesota, but Chairman Davids and his GOP colleagues chose to ignore it.
Rural Minnesota certainly needs more legislators willing to take a stand, but that requires more than empty rhetoric from legislators who voted to raise property taxes in rural Minnesota by eliminating the Homestead Credit.
Rep. Paul Marquart