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ST. PAUL, MN-After a compromise proposed by Gov. Jesse Ventura last week, the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate finally passed a budget Thursday, sending the bills to Ventura. The House vote was 117-16; the Senate approved it 52-11.

The deal enacts major commercial property tax reform and is expected to provide about $900 million in tax relief and $860 million in new spending. It would reduce property taxes, on average, by 24% onapartments, 10% on businesses, 22% on homes and 11% on cabins. In addition, taxpayers would see rebates worth about $700 million this summer.

The plan essentially splits the difference on many of the issues that have prompted the impasse at the state Capitol, resulting in the state Legislature adjourning a month ago without a budget or spending plan.

In a speech in St. Paul Thursday to the Minnesota Taxpayers Association, Ventura appeared ecstatic about the bill. “The economic times were right, the will of the people was there and we didn’t give up when the going got tough,” Ventura told the group. “We swung hard and we connected. This bill, ladies and gentlemen, is a home run.”

Republican leaders are calling the property tax reform a great victory. The Democrats in the Senate got something, too. The legislation will shift most basic education costs from local property tax rolls to thestate and also would direct some of the proceeds from a new $592-million statewide business levy to education — something the Democrats had been pushing for as a way to make sure K-12 education had a morestable funding source under the new system.

Ventura says that while over the last two decades the average biennial budget increase has been 12.8%, this biennium will see an increase of just 6.8%. Ventura planned to sign the bills Friday.

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