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Tax cut bill slips off fast track but is still moving ahead

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A tax bill that DFL leaders hoped to put on an express run through the Minnesota Senate was slowed Thursday by Republican lawmakers who wanted to take a closer look at it.

But as the Associated Press reports, the measure could still be approved on Friday.

The Dayton administration has said tax changes need to pass the Legislature this week so they can be used by the 40 percent of Minnesotans who file their taxes in April.

The governor's exhortation this week seemed to light a fire under the Senate's DFL majority. But suspending the customary rules to allow speedy approval would have required support from some of the chamber's Republican members and that did not materialize Thursday.

The AP quotes Cambridge Republican Sean Nienow as saying: “Give us 24 hours. Let us absorb this bill. There’s not an urgency to do it today rather than tomorrow morning.”

MPR reports the Senate bill would cut taxes by $432 million largely by repealing three business sales taxes and by enacting state versions of various federal tax credits and deductions. That makes the tax savings about $70 million less than the bill the House has already approved.

Gov. Dayton continued to stress the time sensitivity of the tax cuts. MPR says he called Thursday's move by Republicans that slowed the bill's progress "inexcusable."

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead says the bill would reduce the taxes paid by as many as 500,000 Minnesotans. The Forum says the measure was widely praised during a Senate Tax Committee hearing Thursday morning, with the National Federation of Independent Business among the groups lauding it.

In addition to the tax cuts, the Senate bill would add $150 million to the state's reserve fund. That means the measure would use about half of Minnesota's $1.2 billion budget surplus.

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