by Joe Praska - Public Policy Intern on 6 July 2011
Joe Praska - Public Policy Intern
With the government stuck in shutdown, I’m beginning to worry renter’s credit checks won’t be mailed out to the 300,000 eligible homes this August. Added to that uncertainty, the legislative fight over Minnesota taxes has all of us wondering what size will eventual renters’ credit checks be and who will even be eligible .
Like many other government services, the renter’s credit was rendered ‘non-eessential’ in a recent court decision. That means there will be no renters credit in August, if the State is still in shutdown mode. So, if you are counting on that check, you need to call your legislator and demand they get their job done.
Now, as for how large that renters credit check will be … that is still to be determined. Although Governor Dayton has refused to sign any bill proposing cuts to the rebate, I’m afraid—given the cavernous differences between the governor and the legislature—the renter’s credit might get swept under the rug and sacrificed. As Minnesotans, we are all feeling the effects of the shutdown, some more than others, and it’s frustrating to sit back and watch as seemingly nothing gets done. It’s easy to stop caring about the issues we believe in and look for the simple fix. However, we cannot allow our immediate frustrations to get in the way of finding a solution that benefits Minnesota in the long run. It is imperative that we make sure our lawmakers act on our behalf, as citizens of their respective districts and this state as a whole.
Together, we need to reach out to our leaders and make our voices heard. Contact Governor Dayton and express appreciation for defending the renter’s credit throughout his term so far, and contact you local representatives and tell them this is an issue that you care about. Cuts to the renter’s credit
have been on the table for years now; we cannot allow one of our last progressive tax initiatives to vanish amidst an all-cuts budget that would pull Minnesota into an even more regressive tax system.
Since 2005, we have seen significant rental property tax increases, disproportionately expanding three times the rate of the renter’s credit. The renter’s credit was mandated as recognition that renters pay property taxes through their rent. With the amount of money collected in property taxes nearly doubling in the past decade and the renter’s credit essentially remaining unchanged, any cuts would inflict deep wounds to countless Minnesota households, and disproportionately affect low income families, the elderly, and people with severe disabilities.
With Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislators currently in gridlock, former Governor Arne Carlson and former Vice President Walter Mondale have begun taking strides to put together a group of ‘all-star’ former politicians and statesmen to create a new, bipartisan, ‘third way’ proposal. While this group is forming with the best intentions of Minnesota in mind, they recognize the sense of urgency the shutdown has caused and have given themselves a deadline of this weekend. This proposal will be a skeleton plan for our current leaders to hopefully find a point to begin working together. The plan will most likely not take into account individual services such as the renter’s credit.
This is why, now more than ever, it is important to be heard. Make sure the programs you care about don’t get lost in the fog of the myriad disagreements plaguing Minnesota in these tough times. The renter’s credit is not a partisan issue; it is a fairness issue. So spread the word: dedicate a facebook status or tweet about the renter’s credit, tell your friends and family, share your story and read other people’s stories of how the renter’s credit affects them, and continue to contact Governor Dayton and your Minnesota Legislators with your concerns!