- Associated Press - Friday, January 13, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gov. Mark Dayton signed a tax measure into law Friday that won unanimous support in the Legislature, but he acknowledged such consensus won’t be nearly so easy on various other challenges facing the state.

The plan to square Minnesota’s taxes with federal laws became the first bill to become law during the 2017 session. It offers tax breaks to some 200,000 residents, including college students for tuition, teachers for classroom supplies and homeowners for mortgage insurance premiums.

Home refinancers and short sellers will get breaks totaling $17.4 million. All of the changes will retroactively apply to Minnesotan residents who filed taxes last year.

Dayton said the cuts were a “great way” to start the session as he and other lawmakers celebrated its passage.

Still, clashes over health care insurance premium hikes, the upcoming budget and a gas tax increase could make the comity between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled Legislature short-lived.

“We have significant differences,” Dayton said of the priorities of the state’s two parties. “I’ve said that from the outset.”

GOP legislation passed through the Senate Thursday that would reduce monthly health insurance premium payments amid massive rate hikes, but Dayton and Democrats have said the income-testing required to deliver checks could result in months of delays.

And Dayton said the Republican-led plans to pair relief with broader market fixes can wait. He said he’d veto any reinsurance program like the one included in Thursday’s Senate bill that is meant to offset health plan losses and could cost more than $150 million a year.

But Dayton said he’d unveil his own plan for health care reforms during his Jan. 23 State of the State address, adding that he’ll begin to reveal his proposal for a two-year budget at that time that will likely put him at odds with Republican legislative leaders.

As the session carries on, lawmakers will also likely be at odds over Dayton’s already proposed transportation plan that includes an increased gas tax. Republicans say they would rather see some of the state’s projected $1.4 billion surplus put toward transportation funding.

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